Rumors put Bayer, Onyx at the M&A altar

With the Watson Pharmaceuticals-Actavis deal wrapped up, M&A hounds need something new to sniff out. And voilá! Reuters sources come through with a putative multibillion-euro Bayer Healthcare deal. "A big announcement is imminent," one told the news service, without saying what, precisely, that announcement would be.

There's no shortage of speculation rushing into that vacuum. One obvious target is Onyx Pharmaceuticals ($ONXX), Bayer's Nexavar partner. Onyx is often raised as a buyout prospect, and Bayer not only shares Nexavar with the San Francisco company, but a potential Nexavar follow-up.

With a current market cap of around $3 billion--investors bid up the stock as rumors heated up--Onyx could go for $5 billion, considering Bloomberg's recent calculation of average biotech M&A premiums. Still we've heard the Onyx talk before. "It's speculation and rumors," an Onyx spokeswoman told the San Francisco Business Times. "We just don't comment on market rumors."

Bayer has also been kicking tires at Pfizer's ($PFE) animal health unit; sources close to that potential deal have said Bayer is eyeing an offer of up to $18 billion, but Pfizer appears to be leaning toward a spinoff instead.

Whatever this rumor's final destination, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers has been talking acquisitions for some time. Last month, he once again confirmed that he's shopping around. "Every company of our size is looking for acquisition opportunities," he said at the time. And as Reuters points out, Dekkers has a record of making big deals. Now, sources tell the news service that he's anxious to move: "Dekkers is keen to do something and it could happen within the next couple of days."

- read the Reuters story
- here's the San Francisco Business Times article