Celgene, Gilead Said to Join Suitors Mulling Medivation Bids

  • Sanofi remains most serious bidder for cancer-therapy firm
  • U.S. company rejected $9.3 billion offer from French drugmaker

Biotechnology companies Celgene Corp. and Gilead Sciences Inc. are considering bids for Medivation Inc., which would pitch them against suitors led by French drugmaker Sanofi, according to people familiar with the matter.

Celgene and Gilead are talking to advisers as they evaluate whether to pursue a bid for the cancer-therapy company, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. No formal sales process is under way yet and Celgene and Gilead could decide against moving ahead with an offer, the people said.

Medivation shares, which have traded higher than Sanofi’s $52.50-a-share offer since it was made public, declined 0.5 percent at $61.58 at 12:41 p.m. in New York, valuing the company at about $10.1 billion. Celgene rose 1.5 percent, while Gilead was little changed.

Representatives for Celgene, Gilead, Medivation and Sanofi declined to comment on the potential bidding process.

Sanofi, which is the only suitor to go public with its offer, remains the most serious bidder, according to people familiar. The French drugmaker made an unsolicited, $9.3 billion takeover offer for Medivation in April. Medivation rejected the bid, saying it “substantially undervalues” the U.S. firm.

Sanofi on Wednesday said it is seeking to remove Medivation’s entire board and replace it with candidates who are “willing to fully and fairly evaluate all of Medivation’s strategic options, including Sanofi’s acquisition offer.”

To read about how Sanofi’s tactics may tempt other bidders to enter, click here.

Medivation has declined to engage in talks over the French drugmaker’s offer for the past six weeks. On Wednesday, it urged shareholders to reject the proposed board ouster, calling it “a tactic for Sanofi to facilitate its substantially inadequate and opportunistically-timed proposal.”

Other European companies that may bid for Medivation include AstraZeneca Plc and Novartis AG, people familiar with the matter have said. Pfizer Inc. and Amgen Inc. in the U.S. may also consider making an offer, the people said. It is still unclear which firms will eventually go ahead with a formal offer, they said.

Grow Via Acquisitions

Top executives at Celgene and Gilead have said recently they would like to grow via acquisitions. Celgene President Jackie Fouse said in an interview earlier this month that the company has set an aggressive growth target of more than doubling sales by 2020, and it’s looking for acquisitions, drug combinations and creative pricing to keep the momentum going.

In a separate interview also this month, Gilead Chief Executive Officer John Milligan said he’s eager to score a key asset in cancer, one of the three therapeutic areas he seeks to expand alongside liver diseases and inflammatory disorders and offset a possible slowdown in its blockbuster hepatitis C treatments.

With $21.3 billion in cash and short-term equivalents on hand, Milligan has the firepower to spend big. The pressure is high to repeat the success his predecessor John Martin had with the $11 billion deal in 2011 that brought in hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which helped double revenue in 2014.

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