October 26, 2010 / 10:20 AM / 9 years ago

Ablynx eyes small alliances, says could be bought

GHENT, Belgium, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Belgian biomedical group Ablynx ABLX.BR is seeking partners to help it deliver its ultra-small antibody fragments to patients and does not rule out itself being snapped up by a larger company.

Chief Executive Edwin Moses told a briefing on Tuesday on its pipeline and strategy that it was more likely to strike alliances with other small companies than to buy them.

“We are obviously aware of the market but are fully focused on nanobodies technology at the moment,” he said.

“We are looking at companies that offer complimentary technology but believe such arrangements will be made via licensing and collaboration agreements rather than M&A.”

The CEO of the Ghent-based biotechnology company, which listed on Euronext Brussels in November 2007, also said he could not rule out the company being bought by a larger player.

Ablynx shares have gained sharply in recent weeks, in part due to trial data but also due to sector-wide takeover speculation sparked by Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) agreed bid for Dutch vaccines group Crucell CRCL.AS launched last month. [ID:nLDE68J0HB]

“It is not for us to say we want one shareholder or 10,000,” Moses commented.

Moses has periodically said that deeper cooperation with big pharma could eventually lead to a takeover.

Ablynx uses the DNA of camels and llamas to develop a new class of drugs it calls nanobodies. These animals possess an unusual type of antibody that is much smaller than those in humans and other animals.

Its larger partners include Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck Serono (MRCG.DE), Novartis NOVN.VX and Pfizer (PFE.N). (Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Will Waterman)

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