Wyeth is in discussions to acquire vaccine manufacturer Crucell, in a deal that media reports suggest could be valued at more than $1.35bn.
Crucell has confirmed that “friendly discussions” are taking place between the two companies but warned that negotiations “are at a preliminary stage and there is no certainty that they will result in a transaction”.
If the deal goes through Wyeth would be in a position to challenge GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis for the top spot in the vaccine market. Crucell had revenues of $213m in 2007 but this looks set to rise when 2008, with quarterly results being 30-50 per cent up on last year.
In addition to this revenue stream, Wyeth would gain the nine vaccines Crucell has in the pipeline and its facilities in Switzerland, Sweden, Korea and Spain. Wyeth has already acquired the rights to use Crucell’s PER.C6 vaccine development technology.
However, it is still far from certain that Wyeth will buy Crucell, especially with analysts speculating that Novartis and Sanofi may launch rival bids. This could lead to a bidding war that would drive the up cost of Crucell.
The vaccine manufacturers share price surged by 35 per cent on news of Wyeth’s interest and offers from big pharma rivals could take this even higher. A knock on effect of Wyeth’s interest has been a spike in Austrian vaccine manufacturer Intercell’s share price.
Shares in Intercell rose by as much as 9 per cent as the interest in Crucell alerted investors to big pharma’s faith in the vaccine market and the scarcity of independent companies in the sector.