With Aptalis sale a no-go, TPG plots IPO instead

Looks like $3 billion-plus may have been a little too much to ask for Aptalis Pharma. After exploring a sale of the specialty drugmaker and finding no one to take the bait, private equity firm TPG has hired two banks for an IPO, Reuters sources say.

As the news service reports, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have signed on to lead the offering, which may not come until next year. Reuters still lists a sale of the Bridgewater, NJ-based company as a possibility, but several once-interested drugmakers--including Elan ($ELN), Forest Laboratories ($FRX) and Sun Pharma--have already passed on their chances to make a deal.

Aptalis' price tag no doubt factored into their decisions. TPG, which bought Aptalis--then Axcan Pharma--for $1.3 billion in 2008 before merging it with Eurand in 2011, wanted $3 billion to $4 billion for the maker of gastroenterology and cystic fibrosis drugs. Aptalis' revenues, on the other hand, totaled just $530 million for the 9 months ended June 30.

But as Reuters notes, a high asking price was not the only factor that kept some of those prospective buyers away. Elan in July agreed to sell itself to Perrigo in an $8.6 billion deal, while Forest spent the summer months searching for a CEO to replace longtime helmsman Howard Solomon.

Still, other specialty pharma companies have fared better in the M&A arena as of late. Novartis ($NVS) made headlines last May with a $1.5 billion buyout of Fougera Pharmaceuticals, a specialty dermatology drugmaker. And several other specialty companies have drawn continued buyout interest. ViroPharma ($VPHM), for one, has reportedly attracted a line of suitors with its hereditary angioedema drug Cinryze.

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