Hard-hit Acorda bows to activist's urging, scouts potential buyers: report

Acorda Therapeutics
Acorda Therapeutics is working with Centerview Partners and MTS Health Partners on a potential sale, according to a report.

SAN FRANCISCO—Last year, activists began pushing troubled Acorda Therapeutics to sell—and it looks as if the company may be heeding that advice.

The Ardsley, New York-based drugmaker is exploring a buyout with help from Centerview Partners and MTS Health Partners, The Wall Street Journal reports, though the process is still in the early stages and may not amount to an eventual deal.

RELATED: Activist pushes Acorda to sell, figuring pipeline's too risky to offset Ampyra loss

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One reason? It’s possible Acorda won’t find a buyer, the Journal’s sources say. But Scopia Capital Management—the hedge fund that holds about an 18% stake and is piling on pressure to sell—sees things differently.

“We are highly confident that multiple qualified, potential buyers would be interested in engaging with Acorda at a significant premium to its present value,” Scopia wrote in a letter to Acorda’s board back in August, pointing to recent deals for Cynapsus, which sold to Sunovion for $624 million, and NeuroDerm, which went for $1.1 billion. Acorda’s market cap sat at $1.04 billion Monday morning.

Acorda, meanwhile, has already swallowed a poison pill to ward off an unwanted takeover attempt.

RELATED: Court nixes Acorda patents, teeing up Ampyra generics—and potential cost cuts, analyst says

It was a rough 2017 for the company, which saw a federal court upturn four of the five patents covering moneymaker Ampyra, a multiple sclerosis product. In response, to prepare for potential generics, Acorda queued up more than 100 layoffs, amounting to 20% of its workforce. Then, in November, the company scrapped development of key pipeline candidate tozadenant after five patient deaths forced it to halt phase 3 trial enrollment.

Acorda, though, is hoping 2018 will be kinder—beginning with an approval for inhaled Parkinson’s med Inbrija, which is due for an FDA decision in February. It’s also crossing its fingers for a successful appeal of the Ampyra decision.

Even if the verdict stands, though, the company is expecting to keep exclusivity on the product through at least the end of July. With that in mind, it’s predicting net revenue for the med to hit between $330 million to $350 million for the year, it said Monday at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.