M&A

Daiichi Sankyo douses a puzzling report about an AstraZeneca buyout offer

Here’s another head scratcher to consider on AstraZeneca.

The London-based pharma giant reportedly made a serious pass at Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo last year, looking to buy the company and add it to their global operations. But the report from Nikkei Business says that the Japanese company turned down the offer.

Reuters picked up the story, but couldn’t get any comments from the companies. But soon after Daiichi Sankyo decided to squelch any rumors that may have been sparked. The company said in a statement:

It was today reported by Nikkei Business that Daiichi Sankyo Company Limited (hereinafter “Daiichi Sankyo”) received the acquisition offer from AstraZeneca. However, this is not the fact.

Pascal Soriot AP Images

If there was any truth to the buyout rumor, it wouldn’t have been cheap. Daiichi Sankyo has a market value in the pricey neighborhood of $16 billion. And AstraZeneca has been more of a seller over the past year, not a buyer, marketing off rights to a slew of pipeline products as the company struggles to turn around and start growing revenue.

One of those deals came two years ago when Daiichi agreed to pay AstraZeneca $200 million in cash for co-promotion rights in the US for the opioid-induced constipation drug Movantik. The deal also included $625 million in milestones.

Analysts concluded awhile ago that the UK company is cash constrained, looking to fund a broad variety of deals struck during Pascal Soriot’s 5-year rein — and making a possible buyout deal like this all the less likely.

AstraZeneca has a particular interest in becoming a cancer drug powerhouse, with some advances and some big disappointments that have piled up in the oncology group. And that may have helped inspire some interest in Daiichi Sankyo, which recently won a breakthrough tag from the FDA for its HER2-targeting antibody-drug conjugate DS-8201. Its cancer pipeline has 20 molecules in it, focused on ADCs and acute myeloid leukemia. The Japanese company struck a deal with Kite to launch its pioneering CAR-T drug in Japan, which now makes it partners with Gilead.

It’s probably all academic now. But it does raise questions about what Soriot — who reportedly thought about taking the job at Teva — has been thinking as he looks to deliver on a promise to essentially double last year’s revenue.

He’s going to need some major league help. That all won’t come from the pipeline.



The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.

Full-text daily reports for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 21,000+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

Free Subscription

Biomanufacturing