DealZone

DealZone Daily

U.S. drugstore operator Walgreen is to buy rival Duane Reed for $618 million from private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, giving the company the market lead in New York. The acquisition brings the company 257 new stores in the city and has prompted analysts to think that struggling chain Rite Aid might make an attractive target for Walgreen rival CVS Caremark as it looks to catch up.

Britain’s Babcock International has increased a proposed offer to buy defence firm VT Group to as much as 1.29 billion pounds, but its advances have again been rejected.

For more Reuters deals stories, click here.

In other media:

Beijing’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, is investing $1.5 billion with three private equity secondary specialists – firms that buy positions in buyout funds from other investors – the FT reported. CIC will put $500 million with each of Lexington Partners, Goldman Sachs and Pantheon Ventures in special accounts that will be kept separate from the firms’ main funds.

 Leading shareholders in Telecom Italia are discussing among themselves the possibility of merging with Telefonica of Spain, the FT writes. The discussions are said to be informal and preliminary but involve Telecom Italia’s three biggest Italian shareholders – Mediobanca, Intesa Sanpaolo and Generali.

Warner Chilcott to buy P&G’s pharma biz

Warner Chilcott Plc agreed to buy the pharmaceutical business of Procter & Gamble Co for $3.1 billion, winning an auction that drew few bidders.

The unit had attracted interest from some private equity firms but very few pharmaceutical bidders, sources familiar with the auction said.  Many of the key products within P&G’s pharma unit, such as the overactive bladder drug Enablex, already face stiff competition from a wide range of rival drugs, while other products are close to their patent expiration. Other pharmaceutical companies are struggling enough with these problems without buying a business that echo these issues, the sources said.

As a result, Warner Chilcott was essentially in a bidding war alone. Under terms of the deal, Warner Chilcott will pay $3.1 billion in cash.  It will finance the deal, and restructure some of its existing debt, through $4 billion in funding it received from a syndicate of banks, sources said.

Is Genentech taking over Roche?

Roche’s megabucks Genentech buy is looking more like a reverse takeover — in some ways, at least.

Roche headquartersThe Swiss drugmaker splashed out $47 billion to buy out its biotech partner to secure access to Genentech’s impressive new drugs. But Roche’s U.S. operations are to operate under the Genentech name and research, development and commercial operations are all being based at the U.S. group’s South San Francisco headquarters.

Now Roche doesn’t even consider itself Big Pharma. It says it will leave the industry group Pharmaceuticals Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) but will retain Genentech’s membership of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

Credit crisis advantage?

RocheThe credit crisis may just be the leverage Roche needs in its bid for Genentech.

The Swiss drug maker went hostile with its bid to buy the 44 percent of Genentech it doesn’t already own. But in a rather unusual move, it has gone to shareholders with an offer that is actually lower than the $44 billion bid it initially made for the U.S. biotech group.

Investors now have a public tender offer at $86.50 per share in cash, valuing the deal at $42 billion, down from $89 per share earlier.

After the initial announcement in July, Genentech shares rose to a high of $99.05, but later fell back below the offer price as the credit crisis bit, giving Roche the leeway to lower its bid.

A trigger for more drug deals?

Jeff KindlerPfizer has taken the plunge, and others may follow.

The world’s largest drug maker is buying rival Wyeth for $68 billion in cash and stock to become even larger.  

Pfizer’s Jeff Kindler is content with swallowing Wyeth for now. He told CNBC the company has no plans to do any huge transactions in the near future.

But the merger could trigger a wave of consolidation in the cash-rich sector as big pharma looks to diversify revenues in the face of competition from generic-drug rivals, analysts say.

Pfizer: Dealing with Lipitor side-effects

Pfizer’s at it again. The world’s largest drugmaker by revenue has set its sights on rival Wyeth and the two are talking about a deal that could be valued at more than $60 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer was built in the last 10 years on two of the biggest deals in the sector — the purchase of rivals Warner Lambert and Pharmacia.

And another big deal would not come as a surprise. Some analysts and investors have made pleas to the company to make another acquisition to obtain products to prepare for an expected loss in earnings in 2011, when the patent on its flagship cholesterol drug Lipitor expires.