Morgan Stanley‘s jump from 10th to first in our M&A league table should put them on cloud nine. The first quarter was busy with drug deals, and Morgan Stanley was in on the biggies: advising Wyeth on its $64.5 billion acquisition by Pfizer, and Schering Plough on its $46 billion takeover by Merck. And with the ink still to arrive on the paper of both deals, more good stuff could be on the horizon. The trick for Morgan Stanley, and anyone wanting to take down the king of the hill, is to spot and exploit the trend.******If drug deals remain du jour — and many expect the sector to stay hot, despite all the swallowing going on — the trend will certainly be toward Biotech. The markets for biologics and pipeline-filling cancer treatments have been strong in the face of expected government action to lower doctor and drug bills.******The heightened merger activity in Big Pharma has switched the tables a bit in the sector. After Roche’s nearly $47 billion acquisition of Genentech, analysts became increasingly convinced that the remaining big biotechs like Celgene, Gilead, Genzyme, Biogen Idec and Amgen could emerge as buyers, given that traditional Big Pharma is either digesting deals or just not so big anymore.******Christopher Kaufman; DealZone Editor******Deals of the Day:******* Drug maker Lupin Ltd said it has acquired a 51 percent stake in Multicare Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc, marking the Indian firm’s foray into the $2.5 billion Philippines pharmaceuticals market.******* Britain-based dairy products maker Dairy Crest said it had sold its 49 percent stake in Yoplait Dairy Crest (YDC) to the Yoplait Group for 63.5 million pounds ($92.66 million) and that it would use the cash to reduce debts.******* Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine said its North American unit, VAE Nortrak had acquired U.S-based Leading Enterprises Inc, a supplier of speciality components for railway tracks, as part of a plan by the company to expand its railway division.******(PHOTO: A sign is pictured on Wall St. near the New York Stock Exchange in New York November 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson )
After eight months of playing hard to get, cancer drug maker Genentech has agreed to be bought by Roche for $95 per share — a price Roche didn’t think it would have to pay. The strength of the dollar makes the deal even more expensive for Switzerland-based Roche, but it may feel it got off easy, given talk that Genentech management might hold out for as much as $120 per share.
Following Pfizer‘s bid for Wyeth and Merck‘s offer for Schering-Plough, that makes nearly $160 billion in Big Pharma deals so far this year. The last two big U.S. pure pharma companies still unattached are Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly. Both are probably feeling a bit lonely, particularly Bristol, which installed a dealmaker CEO a couple of years ago.
Bristol and Lilly, the grande dames of the industry, face increasing competition from generics and are struggling to keep their pipelines pumped up. They’ve been hunting for exciting biotechs and makers of hot new biologic drugs, preferably in cancer or another big disease market, as a matter of survival. Lilly already has some exposure here, having bought Erbitux maker ImClone last year for a far less exciting $6.5 billion.