Jazz will pay $1B for Italy's Gentium, sweeping up another specialty drugmaker

Jazz Pharmaceuticals ($JAZZ), the Ireland-based company known for its narcolepsy drug Xyrem, is often the subject of takeover talk. Because of its specialty drug portfolio and low-tax domicile, analysts often see it as a potential target. But the drugmaker has kept up a steady drumbeat of mostly smaller deals itself to expand its line of specialty drugs. Today it jumped the $1 billion deal fence with a deal to buy Italy-based Gentium ($GENT) along with its EU-approved orphan drug, Defitelio.

Jazz and Gentium inked the price at $57 a share, which is only a 2% premium, but as the Associated Press points out, Gentium shares have quadrupled this year, reaching an all-time high last week of $59.25. Boards for both companies have approved the deal. Gentium specializes in drugs to treat rare diseases. In October, Defitelio was approved by EU regulators for treating obstructions in the small veins of the liver for patients having stem cell transplants.

"Because Defitelio is already approved in the EU, the acquisition would add a new orphan product that has potential for short- and long-term revenue generation, high growth and expansion of our multi-national commercial platform," Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd said in a statement.

Jazz, which had been based-in Palo Alto, CA, in 2011 agreed to merge with Azur Pharma and move to Azur's home base in Ireland. Its Dublin address has made some analysts see it as a takeover target. In July, Allegan, MI-based Perrigo ($PRGO), a maker of generic and OTC products, agreed to buy Ireland-based Elan in a deal valued at $8.6 billion, saying that having Elan's Irish domicile would save the combined company $150 million annually, mostly from lower taxes. The Azur deal also expanded Jazz' portfolio, getting Azur's women's health and urology products and orphan disease product Gastrocom. In February, Jazz agreed to pay $120 million for the worldwide rights for a drug from Lexington, MA-based Concert Pharmaceuticals that has the same active ingredient as Xyrem but is expected to have less burdensome dosing.

- here's the announcement
- more from the Associated Press

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