* Drug data could draw potential bidders - analyst
* CEO says Swiss biotech company not for sale
* Shares hit record high
By Caroline Copley
ZURICH, June 17 Actelion could attract
potential bidders after strong results for the Swiss biotech
company's new heart and lung drug, Deutsche Bank analysts said
on Tuesday, as a wave of deals sweeps through the healthcare
Europe's biggest biotech company has been touted as a
takeover candidate in the past and the stellar data could
reassure potential investors that the firm's long-term growth
prospects are on course.
Shares in Actelion, which surged 15 percent in the previous
session after its experimental drug met its primary goal in a
late-stage study, hit a record 111.2 Swiss francs and closed up
6.3 percent at 111.1 francs, following a flurry of upgrades from
Analysts were re-rating the company's stock after its drug,
Selexipag, achieved better-than-expected results, giving it a
potential big seller to replenish its product pipeline.
"We believe results of the GRIPHON trial are a defining
moment for Actelion," Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkes wrote
in a note. "This significantly improves Actelion's
attractiveness to both new investors and potential acquirers."
Selexipag is the third drug from Actelion to treat
pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a progressively worsening
condition characterised by abnormally high blood pressure in the
arteries of the lungs. The cause is unknown and the disease has
Parkes said if Selexipag is approved in late 2015, Actelion
will have a broad suite of drugs to treat PAH, opening up the
potential for combination therapies which could further increase
the average revenue per patient.
Actelion's tax base in Switzerland - where effective
corporate tax rates are among the lowest in the world - could
act as a further draw with much of recent dealmaking in the
healthcare sector driven by U.S. companies seeking lower tax
However, Actelion Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel sought to
rebuff potential bidders in an interview with Finanz und
Wirtschaft published online on Tuesday.
"Our aim is to make progress with the company
independently," Clozel, who co-founded Actelion in 1997, told
the business newspaper.
"This means we are not for sale. However, independence is
not to be taken for granted. We have to deserve it time and time
again through our performance in research and sales," he was
quoted as saying.
The positive results for Selexipag follow on from the
approval of another PAH treatment, Opsumit, in Europe and the
United States. Both drugs are successors to Actelion's mainstay
product Tracleer, which makes up over 80 percent of sales, and
loses patent protection in 2015.
(Editing by James Macharia)