9. Forest/Aptalis

Deal value: $2.9 billion
Deal status: Closed

Back in January, Forest Laboratories still needed a sales boost to help it recover from a patent loss on key antidepressant Lexapro. And it wasn't going to come from antipsychotic candidate cariprazine--at least, not soon enough, after the FDA put that drug off.

New CEO Brent Saunders knew it. He snatched up Aptalis in a move that he figured would boost sales by $700 million in 2015, not to mention build Forest up in two new specialty areas thanks to the company's portfolio of gastrointestinal drugs in the U.S. and strong presence in cystic fibrosis in Europe.

The buyout also brought along more room for cutting costs--something Forest was already in the middle of with a $500 million program announced late last year. At the time, Saunders said he planned to wring $125 million in costs out of the combined company--plans he hoped would quell investors' fears.

Turns out nobody needed to worry too much about that. Just over a month later, Forest inked a deal with buyer Actavis ($ACT), which paid $25 billion to acquire the company. Proxy battler Carl Icahn, who netted a profit of about $1.7 billion on the news, called the transaction "a huge win for ALL shareholders of Forest labs."

For more:
Icahn: Activist investing works, and Forest deal shows it
Forest nabs Aptalis for $2.9B in its CEO's latest move toward a turnaround
Forest's antipsychotic ambitions thwarted by FDA delay
Wanted: Buyers for Aptalis Pharma. Must be willing to pay $3B-plus

-- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)

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9. Forest/Aptalis