Elan offers no hints over timing of sale

Elan has said it is focused squarely on exploring a sale of the company, but has offered no potential transaction timeframe, nor hinted at any bid deadlines.

It had been expected that first-round bids would be tabled by the end of last week, but that notion was quickly dismissed; suggesting sometime after the company’s interim results announcement — which was made yesterday.

However, speaking to investors after the publication of the results, Elan chief executive Kelly Martin refused to give any more information on the timing issue.

“The board of directors and executive management are in complete alignment with regard to exploring all opportunities to maximise shareholder value,” Mr Martin said.

“The collective work and effort, over the previous years, has produced a business platform that is highly unique across a number of tactical, as well as strategic, dimensions. We will continue to advance the process and communicate the outcome to the marketplace at the appropriate time,” he added.

Up until recently the target of a long-running hostile approach from US intellectual property firm Royalty Pharma, Elan effectively formally put itself up for sale last month after saying it had received a number of unsolicited approaches in recent months.

Since then, plenty of speculation has done the rounds, regarding potential bidders for the Dublin-based biotech company. These have included Botox maker, Allergan, leading US over-the-counter product maker, Perrigo and Forest Laboratories, which reiterated earlier this week that it was actively looking for acquisition opportunities. Royalty is also not being ruled out as a possible suitor, via some possible partnership with another bidder.

As well as the future royalty streams from multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri — in which it recently sold its 50% share — and an early-stage potential Alzheimer’s treating compound; Elan’s main attraction, to overseas companies, is the potential tax benefits of its Irish base.

Mr Martin said, yesterday, that Elan’s “totally unique tax structure”, if utilised strategically, could help any company achieve improved after-tax earnings.

Regarding yesterday’s results, Elan posted revenues of $56.5m for the first six months of the year and total net income of $2.35bn (€1.8bn). That income — up from a net loss of $60.3m for the same period last year — was driven by the Tysabri sale and other transactions. Elan’s net loss, from continuing operations, virtually doubled to $324.6m.

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