Despite considerable skepticism among the analysts who track Roche's every move, the buzz about a potential multibillion-dollar bid for Alexion will not die. Bloomberg has now revived speculation about a potential acquisition, reporting that Alexion ($ALXN) has brought in Goldman Sachs to advise the company after Roche ($RHHBY) made an informal approach in recent days.
News of the overture and Alexion's response immediately triggered a fresh surge in Alexion's share price, which has swelled in recent weeks as rumors of a takeover bid circulated. Alexion's market cap is now about $23 billion, exactly half of what Roche paid for Genentech.
Roche is reportedly fixed on the notion that it can quickly build on Alexion's success in the rare-disease field. The biotech company turned Soliris--the world's most expensive drug--into a blockbuster. And there's more in Alexion's pipeline that could duplicate that record. The R&D work could also help jump-start the makeover of pRED, an R&D arm that has suffered repeated setbacks over the past two years as one blockbuster hopeful after the next failed in late-stage studies.
Roche's $46 billion Genentech buyout proved to be a real winner in the oncology field, advancing several pioneering therapies. Now its best second act could be in rare diseases--though the price in this heated M&A market remains a daunting obstacle.
Neither company would confirm nor deny Bloomberg's report, which only added more fuel to the fire. Earlier this week, in reporting second-quarter earnings, Roche CEO Severin Schwan answered questions about a potential Alexion deal with a pledge to continue looking for bolt-on deals. "It has always been our strategy to have internal and external innovation," he said.
- read the Bloomberg news
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