Matchmaking investors pick Biogen, Pfizer as fave Allergan deal partners

Who should serial buyer Allergan ($AGN) pick up next? It's the question on the minds of many industry watchers--including Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat, who polled investors last week. And while there are lots of possibilities floating around, his respondents seem to have a pair of potential deals in mind.

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

Both a buyout of multiple sclerosis drugmaker Biogen ($BIIB) and a tie-up with pharma giant Pfizer ($PFE) are on investors' radar, Raffat found, with each of the two companies picking up about 20% of their votes. Behind them was Shire ($SHPG) with around 15%, followed by AbbVie ($ABBV), Vertex ($VRTX) and Amgen ($AMGN). Baxalta ($BXLT), Celgene ($CELG), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) trailed further behind, with the write-in option garnering 10% of responses, too.

That Biogen and Pfizer deals are on investors' minds comes as no surprise, considering the buzz about both drugmakers in relation to Allergan. The Pfizer rumors are older; the New York company has been looking for a tax-inversion target ever since its proposal for U.K. rival AstraZeneca fell through, and many have suggested that Dublin-based Allergan would do the trick.

After all, Allergan is no stranger to "transformational" deals. Back when it was Actavis, it dropped $66 billion to buy Allergan, building up its brand stable and reimagining itself as a "growth pharma" that housed both brands and generics under one roof. But when Teva ($TEVA) came calling earlier this summer, it turned right around and hived off its generics for $40.5 billion.

Biogen talk has been cropping up since that time, too, with the Teva sum settling Allergan's M&A debt and opening the door for more dealmaking. The Massachusetts biotech has been struggling as of late, with lukewarm Alzheimer's trial data and lagging sales of MS star Tecfidera triggering a selloff frenzy and making it a cheaper target.

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders hasn't said a whole lot himself about who he's got his eye on--aside from the fact that he spends "zero time" thinking about Pfizer, as he told the Financial Times last month. He offered some insights on the company's Q2 earnings call, though, telling shareholders that he's willing to look at drugmakers with slightly lower growth rates as long as the buys would be "highly accretive"--and cautioning investors not to look for another company-reshaping transaction until the Teva deal closes.

So who do you think is next on Allergan's buyout list? Feel free to share your thoughts by voting in our own poll, and we'll tally up the responses and get back to you soon.

Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2014 - Actavis/Allergan - Actavis/Forest Laboratories | The 25 most influential people in biopharma in 2015 - Brent Saunders - Actavis