Cephalon nabs Switzerland's Mepha for $588M

And the winner of Mepha is ... Cephalon. The U.S. company won an auction for the Swiss generics maker, agreeing to pay $588 million (or 622.5 million Swiss francs) in the takeover.

Mepha was put up for sale as part of the Merckle family's effort to raise enough cash to pay off the debt accumulated by patriarch Adolf Merckle, who killed himself last year after his investments went south in the financial crisis. Among the assets Cephalon gets in the deal are blood pressure medications, malaria treatments, allergy drugs, and filgrastim, a chemotherapy-adjunct drug. Grabbing Mepha also will help Cephalon to expand geographically, with new businesses in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Bloomberg reports.

"It's a purchase of top-line growth with high margins," analyst Michael Nawrath of Zuercher Kantonalbank tells the news service. "Cephalon is a company that is in urgent need of top-line growth to buy time to develop their revenue generators. Cephalon didn't just buy distribution channels in the world, they bought a brand and a few early biosimilars."

Also up for sale as part of the Merckle liquidation is Ratiopharm, the German generics maker that's attracted interest from a host of pharma firms and private-equity investors. Sanofi-Aventis recently said it wasn't pursuing a deal for Ratiopharm, leaving drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Pfizer up against the private equity group EQT Partners of Sweden.

- read the Bloomberg piece
- check out the story from Reuters