Amgen Said to Join Health-Care Pack Weighing Medivation Bids

  • U.S. drug company said to discuss potential bid with advisers
  • Sanofi made offer for Medivation; Pfizer, Novartis circling

Amgen Inc. is considering a bid for Medivation Inc., joining a group of suitors circling the cancer therapy company, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Amgen is speaking with advisers as it evaluates whether to make an offer, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No final decision has been made, and Amgen may decide against moving forward, they said.

French drugmaker Sanofi has already made an unsolicited, $9.3 billion takeover offer, which Medivation rejected, that valued the company at $52.50 a share. Sanofi said Thursday it sent a letter to Medivation, threatening to take the offer directly to shareholders and remove members of the board if it doesn’t engage in negotiations. Rivals AstraZeneca Plc, Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc. are also among firms exploring counterbids, people familiar with the matter said last week.

A spokeswoman for Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen declined to comment.

Amgen has said it’s ready to do bigger deals again after digesting the 2013 Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. acquisition, valued at about $10 billion. Boosted by higher drug sales and the effects of a cost-cutting campaign, Amgen in April raised its sales and adjusted earnings forecast for the year.

San Francisco-based Medivation’s shares rose 0.2 percent to $59.18 at 11:52 a.m. in New York on Thursday after earlier gaining as much as 2.3 percent. Amgen advanced 0.1 percent to $154.32.

Medivation’s top shareholders have signaled “overwhelming support” for a transaction, Paris-based Sanofi said in the letter to Medivation’s board. The company said it would consider revising its offer if Medivation engages in discussions.

Medivation would be trading in the $30s if Sanofi hadn’t offered to buy the company, Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt said in the letter. That means the proposed takeover price gives investors an almost 100 percent premium, he said.

Sanofi needs new medicines to spur growth as its blockbuster Lantus insulin ages and a new cholesterol drug faces a patent battle. Medivation has one marketed medicine for prostate cancer, called Xtandi, and oncology products in clinical development.

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