November 23, 2019 / 7:32 PM / 17 days ago

Novartis nears deal to buy U.S. biotech firm Medicines Co for about $7 billion: WSJ

FILE PHOTO: Switzerland's national flag flies in front of the logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis in Basel, Switzerland, January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

(Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.S) is nearing an agreement to acquire U.S. biotechnology firm The Medicines Co (MDCO.O) for about $7 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The deal, in which Novartis has agreed to pay $85 a share, could be announced this weekend, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Going by a fully diluted share count, the agreement is worth about $10 billion, according to the report.

Novartis declined to comment. The Medicines Co did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

The deal could broaden the Swiss drugmaker’s cabinet of heart medicines and shore up growth threatened by patent expirations.

Novartis has been hunting for a $5 billion acquisition in the United States, two banking sources told Reuters earlier this week without identifying a target.

New Jersey-based The Medicines Co’s top drug candidate is cholesterol-lowering drug inclisiran for heart patients. Novartis has historically had a strong cardiovascular drug franchise, but lost ground when Diovan, once a $6 billion-per-year seller, lost patent protection in 2012 and left the company without an immediate, innovative follow-up product.

Novartis has since been building up its portfolio, which now includes Entresto, a $1 billion seller for heart failure, as well as an experimental RNA-targeting molecule from Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS.O) that it licensed earlier this year for $150 million.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chizu Nomiyama

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