Drugmakers Pfizer, Bayer, Novartis May Join Bidding for Onyx


Although Amgen Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AMGN) $10 billion offer for Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ONXX) was unsolicited and not exactly a stalking horse bid, that's what many observers expect to be the result. By turning down Amgen's offer as insufficient, Onyx has started a race to identify a price that is sufficient.

Expected bidders include Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), Novartis A.G. (NYSE: NVS), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN) and Bayer, according to a report from Reuters. Amgen is unlikely to give up either.

The Amgen bid of $120 a share sent Onyx's shares to more than $130 yesterday, and a final buyout price around $150 a share is certainly not out of the question.

Onyx already partners with Bayer on Nexavar, a treatment for kidney and liver cancer that has been submitted as a treatment for thyroid cancer as well. The company's treatment for multiple myeloma was granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a third cancer drug, palbociclib, for the treatment of breast cancer already has been licensed to Pfizer.

There is no question than Onyx is well positioned to drive revenues and profits for one of the giant drugmakers. But the company will not come cheap, and any purchaser assumes the possibility that one or more of the drugs will not make it through trials. Betting $12 billion or so that Onyx will perform as expected is a big-time gamble that could be very costly to the winning bidder.

Shares of Onyx are up another 1.2% in premarket trading this morning, at $132.89 in a 52-week range of $63.00 to $132.98, a high that was set yesterday.

Filed under: Healthcare (Business) Tagged: AMGN, AZN, MRK, NVS, ONXX, PFE

Originally published