January 21, 2016 / 9:00 PM / 3 years ago

Biopharmaceutical company Xenoport explores sale: sources

(Reuters) - Xenoport Inc XNPT.O, a U.S. biopharmaceutical company focused primarily on treatments for restless leg syndrome, is in the early stages of exploring a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

Xenoport is working with an investment bank and has reached out to potential buyers to discuss a sale, the people said this week, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

Xenoport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Santa Clara, California-based Xenoport’s move comes amid a sharp pullback in the biotechnology market, with the Nasdaq Biotech Index down more than 30 percent since its peak last year.

The downturn, which was triggered in part by concerns about heightened pressure on drug prices, has renewed interest among acquirers in companies with novel drugs that can justify higher prices.

A deal would come as another sign that dealmaking in the life sciences sector is continuing apace despite headwinds from market volatility and tighter debt markets. The sector saw its strongest year in history last year, with more than $600 billion of transactions.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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