Salix investors pushing for sale once supply issues wrap

Salix ($SLXP) is working quickly to get some inventory issues under control after bidding farewell to its CFO and launching an audit committee review. But as soon as it does, some shareholders want the North Carolina drugmaker to put itself on the block.

Some of the company's top investors are agitating for a sale, Reuters' sources say--and activist investor Paulson & Co. may be among them. Paulson has acquired an undisclosed stake in Salix, though it's unclear whether the investment management firm falls in the pro-sale camp.

Either way, investors eager for some M&A action may have awhile to wait. Earlier this week, Salix said it was working with wholesalers to cut down their inventory levels of Xifaxan, Apriso and Uceris to resolve inventory issues by the end of 2015. To do so, it plans to sell them "minimal amounts" of those products in the near-term, meaning fourth-quarter 2014 sales and full-year 2015 sales will suffer.

Those supply issues have already reportedly cost Salix one buyout opportunity. Allergan ($AGN), looking to avoid hostile bidder Valeant ($VRX), was at one point in talks to buy the Raleigh-based company. But higher-than-reported supply levels--implying demand for Salix' products may not have been as lofty as earlier revenue numbers had suggested--scared the California pharma off.

Potential acquirers may also wait to see what happens with Xifaxan, which the FDA is currently reviewing as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Tuesday, the agency pushed back the PDUFA date by three months to late next May, a move Leerink Partners analyst Jason Gerberry said Salix attributed to a "high volume of data." But the company is confident a green light is on the way, Bloomberg notes; it expects peak sales of $2.1 billion for the med.

- get more from Reuters
- see Bloomberg's take

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