French healthcare group Sanofi has agreed to buy US haemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6bn (€9.5bn), its biggest deal for seven years, which it said would strengthen its presence in treatments for rare diseases.
Sanofi shares fell almost 3.75% at one stage in Paris trade in the latest session, making the stock the worst performer on France’s benchmark CAC-40 index and several analysts deemed the deal expensive.
Between the former Genzyme plant in Waterford, which it acquired as part of a $20bn global deal seven years ago, and a facility in west Dublin, Sanofi employs about 700 people in the Republic.
The move comes at a time of renewed interest by large drugmakers in smaller biotech firms and predictions by some experts that 2018 will see a substantial pick-up in mergers and acquisitions.
Bioverativ, a maker of haemophilia drugs, was separated from Biogen early last year.
The agreed transaction marks Sanofi’s successful return to deal-making after its failure to land major takeovers in recent years.
It is its biggest acquisition since the 2011 takeover of US biotech company Genzyme in 2011.
Sanofi lost out on buying California-based cancer specialist Medivation to Pfizer in 2016, and also missed acquiring Swiss biotech firm Actelion, which was bought by Johnson & Johnson last year.
The market dealing with treatments for haemophilia is an important one that is evolving rapidly as new drugs change the landscape.
Sanofi said the sector had around $10bn in annual sales, dealing with 181,000 people affected worldwide.
However, some analysts questioned the cost. “Bioverativ looks a relatively expensive acquisition. It is logical in terms of building around Sanofi’s presence and pipeline in rare diseases and haemophilia, though management may have to argue against concerns on competition,” analysts with Jefferies said.
“The obvious parallel is Shire’s highly unpopular acquisition of Baxalta; but Sanofi’s 2011 acquisition of rare disease specialist Genzyme was also unpopular at the time, yet has it turned into a major success story,” analysts with Kepler said.
Reuters, Irish Examiner