One of the nice things about owning biotech companies is the large number of acquisitions in the sector. You can wake up one morning and find your investment up 50% or more because some pharma or large biotech company has come along and snatched up your development-stage biotech company.
Finding those nice surprises is a challenge for sure. While biotech companies occasionally put themselves up for sale, more often than not, they get sold behind closed doors. The first wind of the acquisition is the press release announcing the sale.
The only trick I know of to identify potential takeover targets is to look for biotech companies with large pharma partners. If their potential is great enough and their valuation compelling enough, pharma companies will usually acquire their partners.
Here are three biotech companies with partners that could get acquired.
I’ll see you a drug and raise you a pipeline
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN) has been on fire lately. Its macular degeneration drug Eylea is selling like hotcakes. It also has a partnership with Sanofi SA (NYSE:SNY) to develop drugs — the first of which, Zaltrap, is already on the market.
Bayer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN)’s ex-U.S. partner for Eylea, could buy the biotech, but I think Sanofi SA (NYSE:SNY) is a more likely suitor. The tight integration of the drug development pact between Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN) and Sanofi would likely be a turnoff for Bayer. Sanofi SA (NYSE:SNY), on the other hand, could deal with having Bayer as a partner for Eylea, since the companies are basically doing their own things in separate countries.
Avoiding the fat
An acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA) by its marketing partner Eisai isn’t likely to happen any time soon; the companies haven’t even launched their obesity drug, Belviq, yet. Eisai will probably want to see how sales progress before grabbing the additional rights to the drug.
If Belviq does sell well, though, it’s easy to see why the Japanese drugmaker would want to acquire the biotech company. Eisai is on the hook for sales milestones of more than $1 billion when annual sales hit certain levels. The pharma can essentially add that amount to its purchase price, since it won’t have to pay the milestone if it buys Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA) first.