CSL confirms buyout interest in Vifor, and a deal could come soon: report

Australian biopharma company CSL, which already has an established presence in flu vaccines and blood plasma products, is eying more growth through a multibillion-dollar purchase of Vifor Pharma. The buyout could come as soon as Tuesday, The Australian reports

On Monday, amid speculation over the last few weeks about the possible deal, CSL put out a statement confirming the talks. But there "there remains no certainty that any transaction will result and, if a transaction does result, when such a transaction would occur," the company said.

Vifor is an 88-year-old specialty pharmaceutical company which markets iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal products in more than 100 countries. Its pipeline is focused on developing new treatments for kidney disease.  The Switzerland-based firm is headed by CEO Abbas Hussain, who came to Vifor six months ago from the board at CSL.

This would be the largest acquisition ever for CSL, which has made many on its way to becoming the largest pharmaceutical company in Australia. It specializes in vaccines and blood plasma products.

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Speculated prices for the acquisition have ranged from $7.1 billion to $8.6 billion. 

Analysts have questioned CSL’s interest in Vifor considering there’s not much overlap in their respective businesses.

“If CSL was to pursue an acquisition of Vifor it would be a significant shift from its core competency (plasma) as well as its core therapeutic areas—immunology, haematology and neurology,” Gretel Janu of Credit Suisse wrote in a note to investors, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Annual financial reports from Vifor show strong sales in Australia, particularly for Maltofer, the country’s best-selling oral iron supplement. CSL values Vifor for its products and pipeline.

Last week, Vifor revealed that it brought in Hervé Gisserot, formerly of GlaxoSmithKline, to take over as its chief commercial officer starting on Jan. 17. At GSK, Gisserot served under Hussain, then the company’s head of global pharmaceuticals.