Pharmstandard nabs Russia's Biocad, with a little oligarch aid

Last year, multinational drugmakers had their eyes on Russian biosimilars developer Biocad. But now, it's the country's own lead pharma company that will grab the St. Petersburg-based company.

Biocad CEO Dmitry Morozov

Pharmstandard, along with Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich's investment company Millhouse, will purchase the company for an undisclosed sum, Bloomberg reports. A Millhouse affiliate will pick up 50% of the company, with Pharmstandard taking a 20% stake and Biocad CEO and founder Dmitry Morozov holding onto 30% and continuing to lead the biotech.

As the news service notes, the acquisition comes amid questions as to whether investors are still after Russian assets. While the country presents an emerging market opportunity, recent political events have spurred a sell-off in Russia's markets. They may also have scared away Pfizer ($PFE) and Amgen ($AMGN), both rumored to have been interested in Biocad last June.

With Abramovich involved, the risk for Pharmstandard is not as great as it could have been for a multinational, and their loss is Pharmstandard's gain. The drugmaker will nab a pipeline of biosimilars from Biocad, which is in the process of recruiting patients to test knockoffs of Roche's ($RHHBY) top three cancer sellers--Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin. Biocad also makes three drugs for viral infections; cancer chemotherapies; and a copy of Bayer's MS drug Betaseron, among others.

Pharmstandard has been busy on the M&A front as of late; last July, it disclosed buyout negotiations for Singapore's Bever Pharmaceutical worth $630 million. Later, it also said it was weighing a possible sale of its OTC unit to another drugmaker. A previously announced spinoff angered some investors and sent shares into a tailspin.

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