The price Allergan plc (AGN) paid for Tobira Therapeutics Inc. (TBRA) —a 500% premium to its Tuesday trading price—showed the Irish pharmaceutical company's boldness when doing deals and has analysts wondering what it will do for an encore.
In a conference call Allergan held with analysts and investors on Wednesday to discuss a pair of deals announced Tuesday—the acquisition of Tobira for up to $1.7 billion and Arkana Therapeutics Ltd. for $50 million—CEO Brent Saunders said the premium for Tobira was so high because of a "very competitive" deal process
But analysts who follow Allergan don't believe it's done doing deals.
For his part, Saunders declined commenting during the call on whether or not the company plans to do more deals. But if Allergan does so, there is a chance that it could look at autoimmune biotech company Alder Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (ALDR) , which The Deal identified as a takeover target in May.
"Within our universe, Alder, whose phase III migraine prophylaxis antibody, ALD403, is relatively de-risked and has multi-billion dollar potential, in our view, would potentially fall into this category (of possible takeover candidate)," analyst Brian Abrahams of Jefferies LLC wrote in a note. "We do not believe the Tobira acquisition would preclude Allergan, considered by many to be a natural potential acquirer of Alder, to still have an interest in Alder."
One company that likely won't get a look from Allergan or its peers?
"One that is definitely not in play in my view is Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ICPT) ," according to analyst Elemer Piros of Cantor Fitzgerald. "The second company that Allergan bought yesterday for $50 million has a follow on compound to what Intercept has. They are definitely interested in the mode of action."
He added that Arkana has a compound in development that's too similar to Intercept's compounds for Allergan to own both.
Officials at Alder and Intercept declined comment.
Both Tobira and Arkana have compounds in development that show signs of treating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or fatty liver disease. Allergan indicated that compounds from each company have potential to act as complementary treatments for those with NASH.
As a result of Tobira's high price tag, Allergan's market cap fell $3 billion to $93.7 billion. The company, though, believes the deal will be worth it.
"Markets don't like uncertainty and unknowing," Saunders said during Wednesday's call. "We had economic models surrounding each of these deals. We stayed within those models."
According to Piros, Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) likely made a bid for Tobira, as the company has been building a pipeline in NASH, and has indicated an appetite for deals.
"We are dealing with north of $10 billion of market potential in a single drug," Piros said in a phone interview. "Any big pharma or big biotech who wanted to move into the liver space would have interest in a program like this."
Analysts have speculated that Gilead could now look at Allergan as a target, but Piros said he doesn't think it's likely.
"Culturally I don't know if they would be a good fit," Piros said. "Gilead may want to keep their innovative culture intact."
He also noted that the two are similar in size, which would make it difficult for Gilead to swallow the entire company.
"The value is in the eye of the beholder," Piros said. "We've seen crazier things."
Gilead officials couldn't be reached for immediate comment on its M&A strategy.
Saunders during the call reiterated previous statements that the company is taking a "stepping stone" approach to acquisitions. While Saunders noted that Allergan has a "very disciplined" approach to M&A, he added that the company is not afraid to be "bold" and turn deals around very quickly.
Allergan didn't release information on the advisers who worked on its Arkana deal.