SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Since the announcement in late June that Amgen Inc. wanted to acquire Bay Area-based Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., most of the buzz has been around the fact that Onyx flatly refused the offer as too low and market-watchers speculating who else might bid and how high the bidding might go.
So far, Onyx has remained mum about any details aside from its dissatisfaction with Amgen's initial offer, but in an Aug. 8 conference call, Onyx CEO and chairman Dr. N. Anthony Coles finally said a little bit more, even if he did remain cagey.
"The process is ongoing with multiple partiescurrently engaged in discussions," Coles said during the conferencecall after the company released second-quarter earnings. Thatstill doesn't tell anyone much, but does at least reveal that Amgenisn't alone in the wooing process and that its success isn't a lock.
The conference call statement from Coles was just a day after Reuters ran a story based on three unnamed sources close to the situation, that Amgen was in "advanced discussions" to acquire Onyx, and that a new offer was on the table for $130 pershare, or nearly $9.5 billion based on shares outstanding. The Reuters story indicated an announcement could come as soon as next week.
Coles' statement makes the imminence seem less certain, but may simply indicate that Onyx is playing things close to the vest to attract better offers. There are market-watchers who continue to maintain that Onyx could capture a significantly higher price than the initial $120-per-share offer.
For example, Canaccord Genuity analyst Salveen Richter wrote as recently as Aug. 8 that "We continue to see fair value for thecompany at $140 per share and see the potential for bidders other than Amgen to playa role."
Potential buyers of Onyx seem primarily interested in the company's compound Kyprolis, acancer drug approved last year for some patients with multiple myeloma. Thetreatment could bring in $3 billion in revenue by 2022, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.