It's back to basics in M&A, and that's a good thing, Actelion CEO says

Jean-Paul Clozel

At least one potential tax-inversion buyout target is pretty happy about the new deal-quashing rules: Actelion ($ATLN) CEO Jean-Paul Clozel. In fact, he says, the slap at inversions is not just good for him and Actelion, but for the whole pharma industry.

Clozel's comments came along with some good news of his own: The company hiked its 2014 forecast for the third time this year, thanks to strong results from its brand-new treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Opsumit. Sales for the first 9 months of 2014 hit 1.49 billion Swiss francs ($1.57 billion), a 17% increase year over year, with core earnings at 630 million francs, a 34% increase.

Analysts had tagged the Swiss biotech as a prospect for U.S. buyers seeking a tax-friendly home base. Though tax rates in Switzerland aren't as low as they are in Ireland, where a few other inversion targets are based, the prospect of savings--coupled with access to Opsumit, which was approved late last year--seemed likely to appeal to deal shoppers.

So far, however, Actelion hasn't seen any buyout interest, Clozel told Reuters. And in a Bloomberg interview, he said that the new lack of big tax benefits refocuses dealmaking back on the basics, rather than on "tax tricks."

"People will have to be very careful in their acquisitions," he told Bloomberg. "I'm very happy with this new evolution. I do hope that people make acquisitions because of the value of the companies and not because of tax."

Meanwhile, Actelion's own goals are focused not on M&A, but on organic growth. Clozel says the company has twin aims: boosting returns and growing sales faster than the market at the same time. For the third quarter, Actelion beat estimates with 209 million Swiss francs in core earnings, or about $222 million--a 31% increase.

So far, Opsumit has helped; the drug brought in 59 million Swiss francs ($63 million) during the third quarter. And Clozel expects that to continue, with Opsumit eventually blowing past the 1.5 billion francs in peak sales earned by its predecessor, Tracleer. "It's not a matter of if, it's a question of when," he said during Tuesday's earnings call.

- see the release from Actelion
- read the Reuters news
- get more from Bloomberg

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