CSL and Vifor Confirm Advanced Talks of Potential $8 Billion+ Acquisition

© Vifor Pharma

Photo courtesy of Vifor Pharma.

Vifor Pharma is flying high, with shares surging by more than 15% as the company confirmed it is in discussions to be acquired by CSL. Talks of a deal, which could be worth more than $8 billion, were also confirmed by CSL while speaking to Reuters Monday morning.

The all-Swiss transaction, which Australian media said should be finalized Tuesday, would give CSL access to Vifor’s pipeline of treatments for iron deficiency, kidney and cardio-renal diseases. CSL would also get the keys to Vifor’s production sites in Switzerland and Portugal. Assets include vamifeport (VIT-2763), an oral ferroportin inhibitor being studied in diseases with ineffective production of red blood cells and iron overload conditions, such as beta-thalassemia or Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). On December 10, Vifor announced that the first patient had been enrolled in a Phase IIa clinical trial investigating vamifeport in adults with SCD.

CSL would also gain rights to Korsuva, the first and only FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of moderate-to-severe pruritus (itching) associated with chronic kidney disease in adults who are undergoing hemodialysis. Korsuva was approved in August, and Vifor, along with partner Cara Therapeutics, is gearing up for the therapy’s U.S. launch, which is expected to take place in Q1 2022.

Vifor has been a hot topic in the pharmaceutical world since rumors of advanced talks were first reported on December 3. The price projected at the time for Vifor by Australian Media was $10 billion ($7 billion). At the time, Morgan Stanley said that CSL could be seeking diversification because blood plasma collections were depressed due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“Diversification could be wise, although it could lead to near-term de-rating until any potential synergies are evident to the market,” Morgan Stanley said in a note. CSL has said that the market, which makes up nearly nine-tenths of its profits, has been improving.

“Vifor is in discussions with CSL about a possible transaction. No decisions have been made yet and there is no time frame for this,” Vifor told Reuters, adding that until such time, there would be no further comment.

However, Australian media reported that investment bankers involved in negotiations were in the air Monday, flying from Sydney to Melbourne ahead of an announcement. The newspaper cited sources with knowledge of the situation. A large shareholder who declined to be named told Reuters that Vifor would accept an offer of 160 francs per share or more.

In anticipation of a deal, Vifor’s share price rose to 136.75 Swiss francs, adding $1.2 billion to its market capitalization for a total of $9.60 billion (8.87 billion francs). For CSL, Australia’s fourth-largest company, the deal would be its largest acquisition to date.

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