Actavis Said to Weigh Bid for Almirall to Grow in Europe

Actavis Plc is considering Spanish drugmaker Almirall SA as one of several possible takeover targets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Actavis has identified Almirall, which could be valued at about 3 billions euros ($3.7 billion) in a deal, as one of its preferred targets to boost growth in Europe, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. The company is looking at several possible bolt-on acquisitions, the people said, and no final decision has been made.

Almirall shares gained 9.2 percent to 14.37 euros in Madrid, closing at the highest level since 2008. Almirall’s products include Actikerall skin treatments and multiple sclerosis drug Sativex. Actavis shares advanced less than 1 percent percent to $265.39 in New York.

One hurdle to a possible transaction with Almirall may be convincing the Gallardo family to sell their controlling stake in the company, the people said. Almirall Chairman Jorge Gallardo and First Vice Chairman Antonio Gallardo own about 67 percent of the stock via two holding companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dermatology Acquisitions

Almirall may still decide to grow in dermatology via acquisitions before or instead of exploring a sale of the business, another person said. In July, the drugmaker agreed to sell its respiratory business to AstraZeneca Plc for $875 million, with as much as $1.22 billion more due if the drugs meet development and sales goals.

A representative for Actavis declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Almirall said the company is unaware of any approach or interest from Actavis.

Actavis, which is run from New Jersey and has its legal address in Dublin, agreed last month to acquire Allergan Inc., the maker of the anti-wrinkle treatment Botox, for about $66 billion in the biggest pharmaceutical deal of 2014. In response to analyst questions after the Allergan purchase was announced, Actavis management said the company would be looking at opportunities for growth in dermatology and ophthalmology via mergers and acquisitions.

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