Abbott jumps into Solvay bidding

Suddenly there's a surge of interest in Solvay Pharmaceuticals. The Belgian drugmaker, a division of conglomerate Solvay, has been on the block for months, generating a flurry of interest at first but generating only one actual offer, from Nycomed. Now, though, Abbott Labs has joined the hunt with its own offer, the Wall Street Journal reports. And fellow Belgian drugmaker UCB is also mulling a bid.

Abbott is already in business with Solvay, partnering on the marketing of Tricor and Trilipix. And UCB and Solvay have common ownership ties, with the Janssen family holding sizable stakes in both firms.

Analysts tag Solvay's drugs unit with a price anywhere from $5.9 billion to $7 billion; word is that Nycomed's bid is on the lower end of that range. Now that other companies have emerged as bidding rivals to Nycomed, Solvay could command a price on the higher end. And a higher price would make an actual sale more likely, as Solvay officially is weighing all options for the pharma unit, including hanging onto it as is. Analysts expect the company to sell.

The Solvay board is set to meet Friday, with a deal potentially following soon after, sources told the WSJ. Solvay, Abbott, Nycomed and UCB all refused to comment.

- see the WSJ story
- check out the coverage in PharmaTimes
- read the Reuters analysis