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Novo Nordisk bids $3.1 billion for Belgian biotech group Ablynx

Reuters  |  BRUSSELS 

By Robert-Jan Bartunek and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Denmark's Nordisk, the world's biggest maker of insulin, has made 2.6 billion euro ($3.1 billion) bid for Belgian group as it seeks to diversify and strengthen its business for treating

went public with the offer on Monday after rebuffed earlier approaches and analysts predicted the Danish group, whose new is seeking new products to bolster growth, would need to raise its bid to win and might face counterbidders.

The approach comes at time of renewed interest by large drugmakers in acquiring smaller companies to boost their product portfolios.

U.S.-based clinched deal to acquire for up to $7 billion on Sunday, while Japan's agreed last week to buy another Belgian group for $630 million.

has offered up to 30.50 euros per share for Ablynx, 60 per cent premium to its Dec. 6 share price, before its first approach.

specialises in the research of novel drugs based on nano-bodies found in the of llamas and alpacas, for which it partners with several of the world's largest companies.

The main attraction for is Ablynx's experimental drug caplacizumab for the acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which would complement Novo's line-up of focused on

The $11 billion market is facing upheaval and stands to lose sales following approval of new

Haematology has become an increasingly important for Novo, but is still small in comparison to its key business.


The Danish company said it would pay 28.00 euros per share in cash for and an additional 2.50 euros in so-called contingent value right (CVR) if certain conditions related to its research portfolio were met.

An acquisition would be the first by Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, who took over year ago. He has said the firm needs external innovation to broaden its product line-up.

Under previous Lars Rebien Sorensen, sat out spate of deal-making across the drugs industry in recent years and instead focused on its market-leading position making insulin and other treatments.

But in March, the company approached Global Blood Therapeutics, U.S. company focused on serious blood disorders, to discuss potential takeover, people familiar with the situation said.

said the current bid could be revised if agreed to engage in talks.

"I think it would be natural to update the bid following detailed discussion with the board of directors of Ablynx," he told conference call, adding that it would be premature to speculate on any subsequent raise.

Brandgaard also played down the threat of an interloper, saying: "In terms of counter proposals it is not our understanding that any other bidder is pursuing the target."


already rejected an offer by the Danish group on Dec. 14 and said the new bid, made on Dec. 22, was some 14 percent higher.

"regrets that the board of directors of has so far declined to engage in any discussions, despite the proposals which have been put forward," it said in statement.

The Belgian company had was not immediately available for comment on Monday. Belgium's market regulator on Monday suspended Ablynx's shares until further notice.

Analysts at Jefferies said they had fair value of at 29 euros per share, rising to 36 euros under long term upside scenario.

"We envisage needing to hike the offer and could see counterbids," the analysts said, adding that they see the latest offer as "low-ball bid".

Tax breaks and other incentives have created thriving industry in Belgium, with many companies spun off from university projects now listed on the local stock exchange.

Ablynx's shares have almost doubled in price in the past 12 months, buoyed by successful clinical trial data. They closed at 21.20 euros on Friday.

Its products, which are all still undergoing medical trials, target many such as rheumatoid arthritis, or

($1 = 0.8322 euros)

(Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, Ben Hirschler in London and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by and Keith Weir)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 08 2018. 14:49 IST