Want Actavis? Prepare to pay up, CEO says

Actavis CEO Brent Saunders

Actavis ($ACT) CEO Brent Saunders expects pharma's deal wave to continue. But make no mistake, he says: Potential suitors are going to have to pony up a pretty penny if they want to swallow his company.

The helmsman of the Dublin drugmaker--which is in the process of merging with Allergan ($AGN) after agreeing to buy the Botox maker for $66 billion--told analysts and investors Wednesday that he foresees "a continued consolidation" in pharma over the next several years, Reuters reports. But when it comes to his company's role in that consolidation?

"I can't predict what others will do, but I think it will take an awfully large premium to acquire a company this special," he said.

It's a message to those companies out there that may be looking to make a big splash in the M&A arena--like deal-hungry Pfizer ($PFE), perhaps. The New York pharma giant is in need of a big buy after shutting down last year's pursuit of AstraZeneca ($AZN), and the rumor mill has been buzzing for some time now that it's got its eye on Actavis to help it accomplish that.

As for Actavis' own pickup action, though, it'll be a little more subdued, Saunders said. While the company is constantly evaluating "dozens" of small acquisitions that align with its business, in terms of transformational deals, "we are going to take a pause," he said, as quoted by the news service.

That'll be somewhat of a break from Saunders' recent deal spree, which sent him from Bausch + Lomb to Forest Labs to Actavis in quick succession. But right now, Actavis is putting its efforts into integrating Allergan and defining the combined company as a high-growth powerhouse with focuses on both branded and generic drugs.

"I'm excited about bringing these two companies together because I think we're really going to have something exciting with this focus on growth pharma to rally around," he told FiercePharma earlier this month. "I think this company is going to be a company that sets its own tone and does amazing things."

- get more from Reuters here and here

Special Reports: Top 10 generics makers by 2012 revenue - Actavis | Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2014 - Actavis/Allergan - Actavis/Forest Laboratories