Sanofi boosts presence in haemophilia, rare blood disorders with deal to buy Bioverativ for $11.6 billion

Sanofi announced Monday an agreement to acquire Bioverativ for $105 per share in cash, or approximately $11.6 billion, bolstering its presence in haemophilia and rare blood disorders. The transaction, which represents a 64 percent premium to Bioverativ's closing share price on January 19, is expected to close within three months.

"With Bioverativ, a leader in the growing haemophilia market, Sanofi enhances its presence in specialty care and leadership in rare diseases…and creates a platform for growth in other rare blood disorders," remarked Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt. Bioverativ launched as an independent company in February last year following its spinoff from Biogen (for further analysis, read ViewPoints: Sanofi looks to play the short- and long-term game in haemophilia).

Bioverativ's therapies include Eloctate (recombinant factor VIII Fc fusion protein) and Alprolix (recombinant factor IX Fc fusion protein) for the treatment of haemophilia A and B, with the company generating sales of $847 million in 2016. Sanofi added that Bioverativ's pipeline includes a programme in Phase III testing for cold agglutinin disease, and early-stage research programmes and collaborations in haemophilia, and other rare blood disorders, including sickle cell disease and beta thalassaemia.

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Sanofi noted that it also plans to "leverage Bioverativ's clinical expertise and existing commercial platform" to advance fitusiran, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic for haemophilia A and B, with or without inhibitors. Sanofi recently announced a restructuring of its rare disease alliance with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, under which the French drugmaker will obtain global development and commercialisation rights to fitusiran.

According to Sanofi, the purchase of Bioverativ is expected to be immediately accretive to business earnings this year and up to 5 percent accretive in 2019. Bioverativ is predicted to post revenues of over $1 billion for 2017 when it announces its full-year results next month, and nearly $1.4 billion in sales this year.

The deal comes as Sanofi faces falling sales from its diabetes franchise, which the company predicted last year would see product revenue decline at an average annualised rate of between 6 percent and 8 percent on a constant exchange. Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Sam Fazeli and Michael Shah said that acquisitions are critical for Sanofi to offset lower diabetes sales, noting that the purchase of Bioverativ is a "step in the right direction." Meanwhile, Jefferies analysts remarked that the deal "is logical in terms of building around Sanofi's presence and pipeline in rare diseases and haemophilia, though management may have to argue against concerns on competition."

Brandicourt indicated that Sanofi also has "the means to make further takeovers." In 2016, Sanofi tried to buy Medivation, but was outbid by Pfizer's $14-billion offer, while the French drugmaker also reportedly lost out to Johnson & Johnson on the purchase of Actelion.

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