Amid takeover chatter, Biogen introduces hemophilia spinoff Bioverativ

Biogen

Biogen’s introducing investors to its hemophilia spinoff--and the company may be hoping it’ll take some attention away from recent buyout buzz, too.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts biotech said it would dub the to-be-jettisoned business Bioverativ--a name that “creates a clear connection to our Biogen heritage and biotech focus,” John Cox, future CEO of the new company, said in a statement. The new company's shares will trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol BIVV.

The news follows a flurry of M&A rumors about potential buyout interest from Allergan, Merck, and others. But Biogen isn’t soliciting offers, follow-up reports have said--and the Bioverativ spinoff, which will yield a return for investors when it happens early next year, could distract those investors from any signals that the company could be up for grabs.

Those signals include growth worries for the company’s MS franchise, whose recent star--oral med Tecfidera--ran into a slowdown last year. Since then, Biogen has leaned on consumer advertising to help rev things up, but forthcoming competition from Roche could leave the entire MS portfolio hurting, analysts have predicted.

Biogen is also expecting some change at the top, with CEO George Scangos ready to depart as soon as the Cambridge drugmaker names a successor. "The unusual announcement of the imminent departure of CEO George Scangos is certainly consistent with the company mounting a temporary 'For Sale' sign to acquirers," Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges wrote last week in a note to clients.

But even if Biogen can deflect the takeover talk, it doesn’t mean Bioverativ will want to do the same. And as brand-new Baxter spinoff Baxalta recently showed with its early-days sale to Shire, young companies can be swallowed without jeopardizing shareholders’ spinoff bounty--though it may take some legal maneuvering on the part of the acquirer to do so.

- read Biogen's release

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