Bloomberg

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) agreed to buy Medivation Inc. (Nasdaq: MDVN) in a deal that values the company at about $14 billion and leaves French drugmaker Sanofi jilted. Pfizer will pay $81.50 a share in cash, the companies said in a statement.

By acquiring Medivation, Pfizer gains a blockbuster prostate-cancer treatment, Xtandi, that’s already approved for sale in the U.S. and elsewhere, and that analysts project will generate $1.33 billion in annual sales by 2020. Pfizer chief executive officer Ian Read said in May that he was more interested in acquiring late-stage assets because the company already had plenty of early-stage drugs in the works.

Cancer research companies have become attractive targets in the mid-market.  Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) acquired Cormorant Pharmaceuticals; Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) bought Nimbus Apollo Inc. and Roche Holding AG (VTX: ROG) plans to purchase Tensha Therapeutics.

The deal is a blow to Sanofi’s cancer ambitions. It has spent five months both courting and pressuring Medivation to reach a takeover agreement. Medivation in recent weeks rejected its offer of $58 a share, plus a contingent value right valued at a maximum of $3 a share.

Pfizer has been relying on new branded treatments, including cancer drugs, to boost revenue, as sales of older medicines have slowed. In August, the New York-based company reported earnings that beat expectations after sales of breast cancer treatment Ibrance were better than analysts’ estimates.

Medivation, which will be Pfizer’s biggest deal since buying Hospira Inc. for about $17 in 2015, is a rare prize. As oncology becomes one of the hottest areas in drug development, large drug and biotechnology firms have found only a few mid-sized targets with revenue-generating, approved treatments. Though Xtandi is a blockbuster, Pfizer will split U.S. sales with Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc., which partnered with Medivation on the drug.

Medivation also comes with two experimental products: a drug for breast cancer and another for the blood cancer lymphoma. The breast cancer drug belongs to a class of treatments known as PARP inhibitors, which disrupt cancer cells’ process of DNA repair. The drug, talazoparib, may well be the most potent medicine in the PARP class, according to Katherine Xu, an analyst at William Blair & Co. in New York, who estimates annual peak sales may reach $3 billion.

By spurning Sanofi’s initial offer, valued at about $9 billion, Medivation was able to bring in more potential suitors and drive up the bidding. Gilead Sciences Inc., Celgene Corp. and Amgen Inc. were among the other drugmakers reported to consider the deal.

Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt may have pushed his case too aggressively. After Sanofi’s initial offer of $52.50 a share was spurned, the Paris-based drugmaker chose to go straight to Medivation investors, seeking their support to oust the board. Medivation warned of a “devil’s bargain” that would usher in new directors who might settle for a takeover price that wasn’t in shareholders’ interest. Sanofi dropped the hostility in July as Medivation agreed to enter into confidentiality agreements.

-- Additional reporting by Bloomberg’s Caroline Chen and Mergers & Acquisitions’ Demitri Diakantonis

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