Rare-disease specialist Sobi entertains suitors for potential $3.5B-plus deal

Orphan meds have been like catnip for drugmakers for several years, driving many an M&A deal. Now, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum might be next in line, at a price of more than $3.5 billion.

The Stockholm-based company, known as Sobi, said Monday that it has received a preliminary offer from another drugmaker. Sobi didn't name its would-be buyer, but reported suitors include Pfizer ($PFE) and Biogen ($BIIB). Both companies have existing partnerships with Sobi.

Biogen launched two products from that partnership, Eloctate and Alprolix, in the U.S. last year, aiming for big things in that market. Sobi plans to roll out Eloctate--under the Elocta brand name--in Europe in 2015.

Pfizer, meanwhile, sells the clotting treatment ReFactoAF under its Sobi partnership, Reuters notes. Among the most active deal scouts in pharma these days, Pfizer has repeatedly said it wants to boost its presence in rare disease drugs.

Sobi has tapped Goldman Sachs ($GS) to weigh offers, and it's been entertaining potential buyers for months, Bloomberg reports.

In its statement, Sobi's board said it "notes the recent speculation in the press and elsewhere regarding a potential acquisition of the company," and confirmed a "preliminary and conditional non-binding" buyout proposal. "There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any such offer," the statement says.

That Sobi has a suitor isn't surprising. The wave of pharma M&A shows no sign of abating--yet--and its $3.5 billion market cap makes it a bite-sized deal for drugmakers looking for bolt-on acquisitions. "It is a natural development given that Sobi is a small company that acts with strategically important product launches in haemophilia," Swedbank analyst Johan Unnerus said about the offer (as quoted by Reuters).

- read the statement from Sobi
- here's the Reuters story
- and FierceBiotech's take
- get more from Bloomberg

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