Impax CEO Bisaro reportedly putting his M&A moves on Amneal

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M&A veteran and Impax CEO Paul Bisaro is said to be in talks with Amneal about merger that might run north of $2 billion.

When former Allergan chairman Paul Bisaro took over at Impax Labs, everyone wondered if his extensive M&A experience would eventually lead the generics maker to a deal. Wonder no more. Impax is reportedly in merger talks with generics competitor Amneal Pharmaceuticals.

The two companies, which both have Bridgewater, New Jersey, business addresses, are in talks which could produce a deal next month, sources tell The Wall Street Journal, whose report sent Impax shares up more than 10% Thursday

RELATED: Can ex-Actavis CEO Paul Bisaro work his growth magic at Impax?

Both Impax and Amneal, which is owned by brothers Chintu and Chirag Patel, are small. Neither ran among the top 15 generics makers. Combined they have sales of about $2 billion. Impax’ market cap was about $1.6 billion before word leaked out of the talks, so a deal could run about $2 billion or so, WSJ speculates. 

Last year, there were reports that Novartis was interested in buying Amneal to add some heft to its Sandoz generics unit. The rumor mill put the price on that deal at $8 billion. That deal didn't materialize, and one between Impax and Amneal may not, either.

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But with generics makers’ sales declining as merged wholesalers demand deeper discounts, analysts do expect consolidation. Industry players figure that will give generics companies more pricing power of their own and take some competitors out of the market. And Bisaro knows well how to work M&A to a company’s advantage.

He built Actavis into a generics powerhouse through acquisitions, then veered it into branded meds with a rapid-fire series of deals over several years that included Warner Chilcott and Forest Laboratories and eventually Allergan.

Then, just when the generics market in the U.S. was getting dicey, he sold off that part of Allergan's business to Teva Pharmaceuticals in a $40.5 billion deal.

RELATED: Teva CEO gets lots of advice on how to fix beleaguered company, even before he begins

Teva’s experience, of course, has become a case-study on the importance of making deals at the right price. The Israeli-based drugmaker jettisoned former CEO Erez Vigodman, bringing in Lundbeck CEO and Novo Nordisk vet Kåre Schultz  to deal with the mess as debt undermined its future.

RELATED: Bisaro to cut first and buy later as he works to restore Impax Labs' fiscal health

Bisaro gave up the chairman’s role at Allergan last fall but remains on its board. He took the CEO role at Impax in March. During his first earnings call in May, he laid out a job-cutting restructuring on top of one already underway, that he said will result in about $130 million in annual savings. He also said the company intends to jump into the M&A melee for generic and branded but conceded with a challenged balance sheet it will take creative thinking to get that done.