Pharma M&A boom rolls on: now Celgene’s buying Receptos

Courtesy of Celgene

Cancer-drug specialist Celgene Corp. (CELG) is to buy Receptos Inc. (RCPT) for $7.2 billion, in a move that will give it a bigger presence in the $67 billion market for drugs that treat conditions caused by autoimmune system failure, such as multiple sclerosis.

It’s the latest multi-billion deal in a year that will live long in the memory of pharma bankers: over $250 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions have been announced in the sector this year. The latest one is relatively small by recent standards, but is still a sizeable sum for a company which had no revenue in the fourth quarter of last year.

Receptos’ most advanced drug, Ozanimod, is in the advanced stages of clinical trials for treating relapsing MS. The company hopes that Ozanimod, which is designed to be taken as a pill, will generate trigger fewer negative side-effects than the injections which are currently used to treat the condition. Celgene said it expects Ozanimod’s annual sales to peak at between $4 billion to $6 billion.

The deal is in keeping with Celgene’s tradition of growing by acquisitions rather than developing its own drugs in-house. It’s less than a month since it spent $1 billion on Juno Therapeutics, another biotech company specializing in cancer treatments.

“The Receptos acquisition provides a transformational opportunity for Celgene to impact multiple therapeutic areas,” Bob Hugin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Celgene, said in a statement. “This acquisition enhances our (inflammation and immunity) portfolio and allows us to leverage the investments made in our global organization to accelerate our growth in the medium and long-term.”

The price Celgene is paying–$232 a share, in cash–is a premium of 12% to Receptos’ market value as of Tuesday’s close. However, Receptos’ share prices had more than quadrupled since September.

As a result of the deal, Celgene is revising up its long-term sales and profits forecasts. It and now expects sales of over $21 billion by 2020 (compared to $20 billion previously) and earnings per share of over $13, up from $12.50.

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