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By Robert-Jan Bartunek and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Denmark's Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest maker of insulin, has made a 2.6 billion euro ($3.1 billion) bid for Belgian biotech group Ablynx as it seeks to diversify and strengthen its business for treating rare blood disorders.
Novo went public with the offer on Monday after Ablynx rebuffed earlier approaches and analysts predicted the Danish group, whose new chief executive is seeking new products to bolster growth, would need to raise its bid to win and might face counterbidders.
U.S.-based Celgene clinched a deal to acquire Impact Biomedicines for up to $7 billion on Sunday, while Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical agreed last week to buy another Belgian biotech group TiGenix for $630 million.
Ablynx specialises in the research of novel drugs based on nano-bodies found in the immune systems of llamas and alpacas, for which it partners with several of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.
The main attraction for Novo is Ablynx's experimental drug caplacizumab for the rare bleeding disorder acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which would complement Novo's line-up of blood products focused on haemophilia.
Haematology has become an increasingly important for Novo, but is still small in comparison to its key diabetes business.
The Danish company said it would pay 28.00 euros per share in cash for Ablynx and an additional 2.50 euros in a so-called contingent value right (CVR) if certain conditions related to its research portfolio were met.
Under previous chief executive Lars Rebien Sorensen, Novo sat out a spate of deal-making across the drugs industry in recent years and instead focused on its market-leading position making insulin and other diabetes treatments.
"I think it would be natural to update the bid following a detailed discussion with the board of directors of Ablynx," he told a 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."
ABLYNX SHARES SUSPENDED
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.
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.
($1 = 0.8322 euros)
(Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, Ben Hirschler in London and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Keith Weir)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)