Who's next to move on Amylin? Analysts say Big Pharma looms

Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) spurned offer for Amylin Pharmaceuticals ($AMLN) could be just the beginning of another M&A saga. Analysts are pointing out other potential buyers, pegging prices and talking synergies. And some are saying BMS's failed bid could foul up Amylin's search for a marketing partner--making a buyout all the more probable.

Top picks? Depends on who's talking. Leerink Swann's Joshua Schimmer figures on AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Sanofi ($SNY), and he's not ruling out another BMS offer, either. Piper Jaffray's Ian Somaiya, on the other hand, thinks Sanofi's a non-starter, because it's developing its own diabetes drug in the same class as Amylin's key product, Bydureon. By that reasoning, Novo Nordisk ($NVO) (which markets a Bydureon competitor, Victoza) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) are out, too. Somaiya figures Merck ($MRK), Takeda ($TKPHF) and Forest Laboratories ($FRX) are more likely to move in.

Sanford Bernstein's Tim Anderson had already been touting Amylin as a possible target for AstraZeneca. His reasoning is similar to Schimmer's: The company badly needs to fill in patent-cliff gaps, and Amylin could augment its "subscale" presence in the diabetes area. And like BMS and Sanofi, AstraZeneca already fields a cadre of sales reps in that market, Deutsche Bank's Robyn Karnauskas points out--making it possible to cut costs enough to justify a bid significantly higher than BMS's initial $22-per-share offer.

Somaiya agrees. "If you have a diabetes sales force, you can literally get rid of the cost structure of Amylin and realize the synergy," he said, as quoted by Bloomberg. "As an acquirer, you're taking on no regulatory risk because the drugs are approved globally."

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