Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotech firm focused on rare diseases and ophthalmology, is drawing takeover interest from larger drugmakers, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The company is speaking to advisers to consider its options amid the interest, they said. Apellis may also consider seeking partnerships or licensing agreements for some of its ophthalmology products, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.
Appellis rose 16% to $76.26 at 10:14 a.m. in New York trading Monday, giving it a market value of about $8.9 billion. The stock is up 30% in the past year.
Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said. The company currently prefers to stay independent, two of the people said. A representative for Waltham, Massachusetts-based Apellis didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In February, Apellis received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its treatment for an advanced eye disorder that’s a leading cause of blindness. The drug, Syfovre, is the first to win FDA approval for the treatment of geographic atrophy and is forecast to generate peak revenue of more than $1 billion, according to analyst estimates.
Teaming up with another pharmaceutical company would give Apellis access to more resources and infrastructure to market and distribute Syfovre to US patients. The company has some competition in smaller rival Iveric Bio Inc., which is seeking approval for another geographic atrophy drug that the FDA will rule on by August. Iveric’s stock rose as much as 12% on Monday.
Apellis also won FDA approval in 2021 for Empaveli, an injection to treat a rare blood disease.
A deal for Apellis would continue a trend in health-care dealmaking that’s seen large pharmaceutical companies buy safer, later-stage biotechs with approved products that can help replace revenue from blockbuster drugs going off patent.
“As a commercial-stage biotech with an approved drug in an emerging ophthalmology indication, we note that a hypothetical acquisition would be consistent with the trend of commercial-stage/later-stage biotech deal announcements,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts led by Madhu Kumar wrote in a report Sunday.
In March, Pfizer Inc. agreed to buy cancer-drug maker Seagen Inc. for $43 billion, a deal that it hopes will contribute more than $10 billion in risk-adjusted revenue by 2030. Amgen Inc. struck a $27.8 billion deal in December for autoimmune disease drugmaker Horizon Therapeutics Plc in a similar bid to boost sales.
Health-care dealmaking has remained relatively robust amid the wider drop-off in global mergers and acquisitions activity this year. Deal values in the sector are down just 14% year-on-year, compared with the broader 50% slump across all industries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
BridgeBio Pharma Inc., which develops treatments for genetic diseases, is also attracting takeover interest from bigger drug companies, people familiar with the matter said last month. And Egetis Therapeutics AB, a Swedish developer of rare disease treatments, on Thursday confirmed a Bloomberg News report that it’s been holding talks about a potential sale.