Pfizer, MSD tipped to lead M&A

By Megan Brodie 3 years ago | In Companies, Industry
  • 3 years ago

17 March 2021

MSD and Pfizer are among the companies tipped to lead pharma merger and acquisition activity in 2021 as AbbVie is reported to be in discussions to sell off its $6.5 billion women’s health portfolio.

Goldman Sachs says big pharma has a war chest of around US$530 billion and is looking for buys.

In an analysis of the healthcare sector for 2021, the investment management firm said deal volumes rose 110 per cent year-on-year in February and, given a favourable environment, M&A activity could follow the trend set in the second half of 2020, during which AstraZeneca announced its US$39 billion takeover of Alexion.

AZ refiled the planned takeover with US antitrust regulators this week after withdrawing its original filing, but it is understood both AZ and Alexion are working towards completing the acquisition, including in Australia.

According to Goldman Sachs, MSD, Pfizer, BMS, Sanofi and GSK are likely to be at the forefront of M&A activity, adding interest in oncology and immunology products is likely to continue along with a rising interest in neurology and “late-stage gene therapy” stocks.

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that AbbVie is looking to cash in on its 2020 US$63 billion purchase of Allergan by selling off the women’s drug portfolio.

According to Reuters’ sources, AbbVie is working with investment bank Morgan Stanley on an auction process that has attracted interest from private equity firms including CVC Capital Partners. It says the women’s drug portfolio generates earnings of around US$500 million, potentially valuing it at US$5 billion.

AbbVie is looking to shore up its position in advance of its US HUMIRA (adalimumab) patent expiring in 2023, and to pay down some of the debt acquired in the Allergan buy so it can focus on new investments.

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