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Sanofi finally seals big deal with $11.6bn for Bioverativ

Published on 22/01/18 at 09:34am

Sanofi interest in making a big acquisition has been clear for the last few years and its struggles to solidify such desire into concrete results have often been commented upon; twice it has been beaten to the punch by fellow big pharma companies, with Pfizer snagging Medivation in 2016 and Johnson & Johnson offering a more attractive deal to acquire Actelion in 2017.

This time round, the company hasn’t been thwarted by the competition and has announced the successful conclusion of a $11.6 billion deal to acquire Bioverativ.

Bioverativ is a spin-off biotech from Biogen that has a focus on therapies for haemophilia and other rare blood disorders. Its two lead products, Eloctate and Alprolix, are treatments for haemophilia A and B, respectively; both products brought in a combined $291.6 million in revenue during the third quarter of 2017.

The products will set neatly into Sanofi’s rare disease portfolio, developed through its acquisition of Genzyme back in 2011. It also helps to explain why it pushed ahead to acquire the global rights for fitusiran, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic for haemophilia A and B, from Alnylam only a few weeks ago.

So, the deal makes sense from both sides of the table, with Sanofi paying handsomely, at a 64% premium on Bioverativ’s share price to acquire the company, and the former finally successfully closing a big deal it hopes to replace fading sales its lead product, Lantus, with.

“With Bioverativ, a leader in the growing haemophilia market, Sanofi enhances its presence in specialty care and leadership in rare diseases, in line with its 2020 Roadmap, and creates a platform for growth in other rare blood disorders.  Together, we have a great opportunity to bring innovative medicines to patients worldwide, building on Bioverativ's success in driving new standards of care with its extended half-life factor replacement therapies,” commented Olivier Brandicourt, Sanofi's Chief Executive Officer.  “Combined, we will continue to leverage our scientific know-how, disciplined focus and development expertise that best position us to drive value for our shareholders and create breakthrough treatments for patients.”

Sanofi’s press release on the area noted that the haemophilia market was worth approximately $10 billion in annual sales, a figure which is expected to continue to grow through to 2022.

As a result, Brandicourt is not the only CEO with eyes on the haemophilia area; there are a number of big pharma players looking to enter, or consolidate their position, within the market – Pfizer, Novo Nordisk, Shire and Roche are all involved in the space and it could become the next fiercely competitive space, just as the diabetes market has become.

Another potential drawback to the deal, alongside increased competition, is the fact that Sanofi will only acquire the rights for the Bioverativ’s drugs in the North American market and selected others countries. Orphan Biovitrum AB already owns the rights for Europe, Russia and selection of other countries – meaning that, as things stand, Sanofi is locked out of selling the product in its own territory.

Clearly this wasn’t enough to deter Sanofi from making the deal and it was optimistic that the acquisition would add to earnings per share this year, and add up to 5% in 2019.

Bioverativ Chief Executive Officer, John Cox, comment on the deal, “Bioverativ was created to bring meaningful progress to people living with haemophilia and other rare blood disorders, and I am extremely proud of the accomplishments we've made toward that mission over the past year. We have expanded upon the success of Eloctate and Alprolix, which are making a difference in the lives of people with haemophilia every day, and built a pipeline of novel programs for people with rare blood disorders. Sanofi brings proven capabilities and a global infrastructure, which we believe will help to more rapidly expand access to our medicines globally and further our mission of transforming the lives of people with rare blood disorders. Our Chairman, Brian Posner, our entire Board and I strongly believed our spin-off would create meaningful value for shareholders, and this transaction delivers tremendous value for the shareholders who have invested in and supported our mission.”

It is expected that Sanofi’s foray into deal making could herald the long-awaited acquisition flurry across the industry that has been long-expected but slow materialise as company’s bided their time to discover how President Trump’s tax reform would impact business.

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