More growth on the way for CSL? Australian giant in talks to buy Vifor for $7.1B: report

Australian biotech giant CSL is negotiating with Vifor Pharma Group to acquire the Swiss company for A$10 billion ($7.1 billion), says the Australian Financial Review. The acquisition would become the largest ever for CSL.

The companies were in talks in March, the Australian publication reported, but the talks have now become more serious. The report comes less than six months after Abbas Hussain left the board at CSL to become the CEO of Vifor, an 88-year-old specialty pharmaceutical company.

Vifor markets iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal products in more than 100 countries worldwide, its website says. Addressing "market speculations" Thursday, the company said it "systematically reviews options that can strengthen its market position and/or accelerate the growth of the company both organically and through partnerships and acquisitions."

"Vifor Pharma is therefore regularly in discussions with other market participants and does not comment on them," the company added.

In response to the news, Vifor shares shot up 21.7% on Thursday; CSL’s slipped by 1.3%.

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CSL, which has no rivals as Australia’s largest company in the biopharma industry, has made several major acquisitions over the last few decades. Its $275 million purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business in 2014 help build CSL’s Seqirus into one of the top flu shot players in the world.

Beyond that, its buyouts of Florida-based Nabi and Zentrallaboratorium twenty years ago helped make CSL the world’s premier plasma collection company. A $965 million buy of Aventis Behring in 2003 helped broaden CSL's product portfolio.

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Early this year, CSL began producing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. It also manufactured the University of Queensland’s investigational COVID-19 shot, until the project was discontinued.

Vifor’s largest shareholder is Swiss billionaire Martin Ebner, who owns Helvetic Airlines and BZ Bank and the BZ Group.