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ImClone confirms it is being courted

The bidder could be Eli Lilly. A deal would add Erbitux to the firm's oncology lineup.

October 02, 2008|From Bloomberg News

ImClone Systems Inc., the cancer drug maker controlled by billionaire Carl Icahn, said Wednesday that a pharmaceutical company had proposed acquiring it in a deal that was not subject to financing or further due diligence.

The prospective buyer requested its name not be divulged yet, ImClone said. Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported that Eli Lilly & Co. was in talks with ImClone.

Lilly, based in Indianapolis, is facing generic competition to its $1.6-billion cancer drug Gemzar within five years.

Investor Carl Icahn, ImClone's chairman and biggest shareholder, said Sept. 10 that a drug maker he declined to name was tentatively offering $70 a share. That tops Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s hostile $62-a-share offer Sept. 23.

A deal between the companies hasn't been reached, the Journal said. The acquisition would be Lilly's biggest, adding the cancer drug Erbitux, a $1.3-billion seller last year, and would boost its offerings of cancer medicines, a $2.44-billion franchise for the drug maker.

"Lilly does have a relatively strong oncology business led by its Gemzar product, and it continues to develop its other oncology products," said David Moskowitz, an analyst with Caris & Co. "Gemzar loses patient protection in 2012 or 2013."

Shares of ImClone, based in New York, rose $2.95, or 4.7%, to $65.35. Lilly fell 77 cents, or 0.3%, to $43.69.

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