BMS, ImClone chiefs spar over bids

Bidding war or war of words? Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Jim Cornelius and ImClone Chair Carl Icahn have been trading jabs over the last 24 hours, with Cornelius scolding Icahn for publicizing the so-called mystery suitor and Icahn chastising Cornelius in return.

First, Cornelius told Icahn that Bristol's $60-a-share bid for ImClone still stands. Plus, it's cash on the table. The competing suitor's supposed $70-a-share offer is contingent on due diligence. So isn't a bird in the hand worth a slightly larger one that may never make it out of the bush? There's no hint whether Bristol might consider upping its bid--but no assertion that it won't, either.

Plus, Cornelius left no room for doubt that Bristol will claim a share of the follow-up cancer drug in ImClone's pipeline. Already ImClone's partner on Erbitux, Bristol says its agreement on that drug covers the new one, too.

Now, Icahn has fired back, saying that ImClone doesn't agree that Bristol has a "clear" right to that follow-up drug, IMC-11F8. And, he says, if you want to make another offer that "you believe we would not find inadequate," feel free. So the ball's back in Bristol's court--for now.

- check out Cornelius's letter
- read Icahn's response
- read the Wall Street Journal Health Blog item
- check out the story in the WSJ
- see the Pharmalot post