Horizon Therapeutics, a Dublin-based maker of drugs for rare and inflammatory diseases, has drawn acquisition interest from several large pharmaceutical companies.
On Tuesday, Horizon confirmed it is in “highly preliminary” discussions with Amgen, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi about a potential takeover. The company cautioned no offer may be forthcoming and an acquisition might not materialize. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the discussions.
Shares in Horizon, which were worth about $79 apiece Tuesday, rose by more than 25% in Wednesday morning trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The company is now valued at just under $23 billion, up from $18 billion prior to the price spike.
Horizon sells a handful of approved medicines, including Tepezza for thyroid eye disease and Krystexxa for chronic gout. Sales totaled $925 million in the third quarter, a drop of around $75 million from the same period in 2021 that was largely due to the timing of Tepezza sales last year. Revenue on a nine-month basis has risen.
The company predicts about $3.6 billion in net sales this year, and recently increased its peak sales forecasts for Tepezza and Krystexxa. Horizon also has hopes for Uplizna, a drug for a rare autoimmune disease that it bought via a $3 billion deal for Viela Bio in 2021.
Given Horizon’s size, a deal would likely rank as the largest biotech acquisition of 2022, should it come about. The two largest biotech buyouts so far this year were an $11.6 billion purchase of Biohaven Pharmaceutical and a $5.4 billion takeover of Global Blood Therapeutics, both by Pfizer. David Risinger, an analyst at SVB Securities, estimated Horizon could fetch an acquisition price of between $101 and $117 per share.
Annabel Samimy, an analyst at the investment bank Stifel, expressed surprise on news of the deal talks, given what she described in a Tuesday note to clients as “still-unrealized” opportunities ahead of Horizon. But she noted the company’s interest in tapping international markets, which a larger pharmaceutical company could help it reach.
Samimy named Novartis and AbbVie as other companies that might be interested in Horizon.
Under Irish takeover law, would-be acquirers must either make an offer or declare they won’t by Jan. 10, Horizon said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Wednesday morning stock trading.