Biogen Surged on Takeover Interest from Merck, Allergan

Shares of Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) jumped up 9.85% to $331.55 on Tuesday afternoon after the company has drawn takeover interest from drug companies including Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) and Allergan PLC, raising the chance of another huge deal in the healthcare industry. Representatives for Merck and Biogen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and Allergan declined to comment.

Biogen had a market value of $68 billion on Tuesday afternoon. It isn’t clear whether other large drug companies also are contemplating a purchase of the company, which is in the process of searching for a new chief executive.

Last month, Biogen announced that Chief Executive Officer George Scangos would step down and the company would search for a replacement. The company has replaced a handful of senior managers as sales of its biggest drug, the multiple sclerosis pill Tecfidera, have slowed.

Biogen’s pipeline of drugs in development is considered by some on Wall Street to be highly risky. The company has spent heavily on potential treatments for Alzheimer’s, a disease that has consistently frustrated drugmakers. But Biogen’s research in Alzheimer’s and strength in multiple sclerosis also make it attractive to the likes of Merck and Allergan.

Biogen also announced plans to split off its hemophilia drug franchise into a separate business recently. It is working to develop a portfolio of drugs to treat neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and spinal muscular atrophy, in part to offset slowing growth in its core multiple sclerosis drug market. But even if its new experimental therapies are successful, it could still be years before many reach the market.

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