Astrazeneca rescues biopharma's 2020 takeover scorecard

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While this weekend’s deal between Astrazeneca and Alexion shows that the pandemic has not stopped M&A, the size and number of deals struck this year is significantly down on 2019. Arguably this is an unfair comparison following 2019’s M&A bonanza, and at least biopharma companies have managed a couple of big-ticket acquisitions this year. The $39bn Astra is paying has saved 2020 from being the worst year for M&A since 2017, and is the only deal this year big enough to be considered a megamerger. Otherwise, there appears to be a marked preference for single-digit billion dollar deals. Partly this trend might be due to the resilience the biopharma sector has shown over the past year; asset prices have continued to grow, leaving Nasdaq on track to finish 2020 at historic highs. The amount of funding in the sector has also given smaller companies a better position to resist takeouts. With only weeks left in December, unless a raft of megadeals materialises 2020 will best be remembered as a year where deals continued to be struck despite the circumstances, albeit for some of the biggest premiums in recent history.

Biggest takeout deals of 2020
Acquirer Target Date Deal status Value ($bn)
Astrazeneca Alexion 14 Dec Open 39.0
Gilead Immunomedics 13 Sep Closed 21.0
Bristol-Myers Squibb Myokardia 5 Oct Closed 13.1
Johnson & Johnson Momenta 19 Aug Closed 6.5
Gilead Forty Seven 2 Mar Closed 4.9
Bayer Asklepios 26 Oct Closed 4.0
Sanofi Principia 16 Aug Closed 3.7
Merck & Co Velosbio 5 Nov Open 2.6
Nestlé Aimmune 31 Aug Closed 2.6
Novo Nordisk Corvidia 11 Jun Closed 2.1
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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