J&J, Novartis, Takeda eye for-sale stake in Brazilian drugmaker Hypermarcas

Deal interest could push Hypermarcas' $6 billion market value higher.

A big chunk of Brazilian drugmaker Hypermarcas may be up for grabs—and Big Pharma is all over it.

Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Takeda have all reportedly expressed interest in nabbing a controlling stake held by two families, sources told Reuters Monday. The current owners hold a combined 34%, and they recently brought on Banco Bradesco and Credit Suisse to help them weigh their options.

As one source told the news service, the purchase of the families’ stakes would automatically trigger a buyout of minority shareholders—but all of that’s still relatively far off. The potential suitors have yet to come forward with binding bids, and there’s no guarantee they will.

If they do, though? Proposals could put Hypermarcas’ $6 billion market value on the rise—and a deal could help any buyer beef up in OTC meds, an area Hypermarcas has spent the last two years bolstering. Novartis—which shares an OTC joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline—and J&J would each welcome a boost in that department as they jockey to maintain their leadership spots in an ultracompetitive market.

A Hypermarcas buy could also end some recent M&A frustrations for Takeda or Novartis. The former late last year saw its $10 billion talks for Valeant’s Salix GI unit break down over price, and Tuesday morning on Novartis’ quarterly conference call, CEO Joe Jimenez acknowledged his company was having trouble finding the bolt-on acquisitions it was seeking.

“We’re having a hard time finding value-generating acquisitions” in the $2 billion to $5 billion range “just because prices have moved up quite a bit,” he said, noting that the pharma giant had “moved upstream” to pursue earlier-stage assets.

J&J, on the other hand? It’s coming off a big win at the dealmaking table in January’s $30 billion pact for Actelion’s marketed meds.