Carl Icahn may have won the ImClone war, but Bristol-Myers Squibb counts itself among the victors, too. Though Bristol won't get control of ImClone, it will rake in about $1 billion in cash for its 17 percent stake when Eli Lilly forks over the $70 a share buyout price. And Bristol still boasts a share of the cancer drug Erbitux; it will just work with Eli Lilly on marketing the drug. (Ironically, working with Lilly won't be unfamiliar to Bristol CEO Jim Cornelius, because he spent years at the company.)
In fact, Bristol's statement in response to losing ImClone to Eli Lilly was quite upbeat, full of phrases like "pleased," "proud" and "looking ahead." Bristol even seemed to take a share of the credit for bringing ImClone and Lilly together; after all, if BMS hadn't decided to try to buy ImClone, the company might not have been in play.
Bristol's teeth didn't show until the statement's final phrase: "to which Bristol-Myers Squibb holds long-term marketing rights." Those words referred to ImClone's experimental compound IMC-11F8, a potential follow-up/competitor to Erbitux. ImClone appears to dispute those rights; Bristol, not surprisingly, stolidly stands behind its claim. Lilly CEO John Lechleiter (photo) was noncommittal: "We feel good where we are" with the experimental med, he said during a conference call about the deal. And he promised that Lilly and Bristol would hash over the subject soon.