Sanofi to Buy Ablynx for $4.85 Billion -- Update

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Sanofi SA said Monday it would buy Belgian biotech Ablynx NV for EUR3.9 billion ($4.85 billion), the French drugmaker's second acquisition this month after purchasing U.S. hemophilia specialist Bioverativ Inc.

Sanofi will pay EUR45 a share for Ablynx, which earlier this month rejected a EUR2.6 billion offer from Denmark's Novo Nordisk A/S. Novo Nordisk said Monday it won't be making a revised proposal.

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The French company has been under pressure from investors to complete a large acquisition after it lost out to Pfizer Inc. in a bidding war for cancer-drug maker Medivation in 2016 and talks with Swiss biotech Actelion collapsed last year after the two firms failed to hash out an agreement. Johnson & Johnson agreed to take over Actelion for $30 billion last year.

"We can still do additional bolt on acquisitions," Chief Executive Olivier Brandicourt said on a call with reporters, adding that the company had a general target of EUR20 billion for acquisitions.

The acquisition of Ablynx will bolster Sanofi's rare-blood disease drug portfolio, at a time when it is under pressure to launch new innovative medicines to make up for declining sales of its blockbuster Lantus insulin.

Ablynx is developing a new class of drugs made from the unusually small antibodies produced by mammals in the camel family. It injects llamas with proteins carefully designed to stimulate an immune response with specific antibodies. These antibodies, which are around a 10th the size of human antibodies, can reach cells that otherwise would be inaccessible.

Sanofi said the acquisition builds on an existing partnership and that the company intends to maintain and support the Ablynx science center in Ghent, Belgium.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the second quarter.

Earlier this month, Sanofi agreed to buy hemophilia drugmaker Bioverativ for more than $11.5 billion, its biggest deal for seven years.

Several analysts said the Bioverativ deal looked expensive, given uncertainties in the hemophilia market because of the launch of new treatments.

Sanofi shares were flat at EUR73.48 on Monday in early trading.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at noemie.bisserbe@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 29, 2018 05:39 ET (10:39 GMT)

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