* Elan offers "unique" dividend on top of share buyback
* To pay 20 pct of royalties on m/s drug Tysabri
* Says Royalty Pharma $6.6 bln approach not credible
* Elan can prove that they can create value -investor
* Royalty to make case to Elan investors
By Padraic Halpin and Jessica Toonkel
DUBLIN/NEW YORK, March 4 Irish drugmaker Elan
has sweetened the terms on offer to shareholders under a
$3.25 billion disposal plan to try to stave off an approach for
the company from U.S. investment firm Royalty Pharma.
Elan said on Monday it would give shareholders 20 percent of
future royalties from multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, in which
it holds a 50 percent interest that it plans to sell to its U.S.
partner Biogen Idec.
The Irish group had unveiled the restructuring a month ago,
saying it would gain flexibility to buy new assets. It has
already said it would also return $1 billion to shareholders.
Those plans were put under question when New York-based
Royalty made its $6.6 billion approach last week.
Royalty's indicative approach, worth $11 per Elan share,
could scupper Elan's plans to spend the rest of the proceeds
from the Tysabri deal on a series of acquisitions, effectively
reinventing itself as a company.
Despite Elan's rejection, Royalty plans to make its case to
some of the drugmaker's largest shareholders later this week.
Elan said on Monday most of its shareholders did not view
Royalty's idea as worth consideration.
"We simply don't view the Royalty indication of interest as
credible. The vast majority of our investor base simply don't
view Royalty's indication as worthy of any discussion," Chief
Executive Kelly Martin told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"I wish Royalty well, they can do what they need to do, but
we're not in any discussions with them at all on any topic and
we don't see any need to have those discussions," Martin said.
The CEO said he was referring to Elan's outside investors
and had not discussed the approach with Johnson & Johnson
, which owns 18 percent of the group.
Royalty Pharma, which buys royalty streams of patented
drugs, is not giving up, however.
"We have approached Elan's Chairman with a possible offer at
a cash premium, and we are very serious about our offer," said
Pablo Legorreta, chief executive officer of Royalty Pharma, in a
written statement Tuesday. "I'm therefore struggling to
understand why this offer is, in the words of Kelly Martin, "not
credible." We look forward to meeting a number of Elan's large
shareholders who have agreed to meet with us later this week."
At least one investor, Larry Feinberg, founder and president
of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Oracle Investment Management,
backed Martin's plan and has bought 2 million shares of Elan
since the Tysabri deal was announced.
"I think Elan is signalling that they are going to be not
just a development stage company and that they are really
looking for commercial stage businesses," Feinberg, whom Elan
has not contacted about the deal, told Reuters.
"I think the Royalty Pharma bid puts a floor on the stock
now. The management has to prove that they can create value and
I believe they will."
Elan shares are up more than 10 percent at $11.48 since
Royalty made their deal public, a signal that the market
believes the New York firm will have to increase its offer.
Martin dismissed Royalty's criticism that Elan's senior
management had little experience making acquisitions. He said
potential deals the group was looking at included some assets
worth more than $1 billion.
The Tysabri deal should close in the coming month or two,
Martin said, adding Elan would provide further clarity on its
plans in coming days and weeks.
Once the deal closes, the Dublin-based company said
shareholders could expect the first of twice-yearly dividend
payments on the drug in the fourth quarter of 2013.
In the deal with Biogen, Elan's royalty payments on future
Tysabri sales, which rose 8 percent to $1.63 billion in 2012,
will be 12 percent for the first year, 18 percent after that,
and 25 percent when annual sales rise above $2 billion.
Martin said shareholders would therefore get 5 percent of
any income on the drug above $2 billion. Biogen aims to increase
patient numbers over time to 100,000 from the 72,700 at the end
of last year, a level that would make Tysabri a $2 billion drug.
Using its Tysabri sales and share buyback assumptions,
analysts at Berenberg Bank said the dividend equates to $68
million in 2014 and increases to $175 million in 2023.
"This news reduces Royalty's options and, if serious in its
intentions, increases the need for a higher formal offer that
more fairly reflects Tysabri upside," Berenberg said in a note.