Roche to buy US firm InterMune in $8.3-bn deal

Written by Reuters | London | Updated: Aug 26 2014, 08:28am hrs
Roche Holding has agreed to buy US biotech company InterMune for $8.3 billion in cash, helping the worlds leading maker of cancer drugs expand into the treatment of rare or incurable diseases.

Roches efforts to produce successful non-cancer drugs from its own labs have been mixed, with setbacks in recent years for experimental drugs against heart disease, diabetes and schizophrenia.

The InterMune deal brings it a promising new drug, pirfenidone, for treating a progressive and ultimately fatal scarring condition of the lungs. Pirfenidone is approved for so-called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in Europe and Canada, and is undergoing US regulatory review. Roche said on Sunday it would pay $74 a share through a tender offer for InterMune, representing a premium of 38% to the closing price on August 22 and a 63% premium over August 12 when takeover speculation around the stock began to circulate.

The acquisition, which has been recommended by the boards of both companies, is the largest by Roche since 2009, when it bought out the remaining stake it did not already own in US group Genentech for around

$47 billion.

Analysts described InterMune's price tag as hefty given it only has one marketed product in a field that is likely to become increasingly competitive over time. Industry analysts expect pirfenidone, which is given as a pill, to have sales of $1.04 billion in 2019, according to consensus forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters Pharma.

Roche said the transaction was expected to be neutral for its core earnings per share in 2015 but would boost profits from 2016 onwards.