Biogen Idec on the Block; Icahn’s Interest in Buying the Firm Confirmed

10/12/07

After months of speculation that it might be an acquisition target, Cambridge biotech giant Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) announced this evening that it is, indeed, evaluating the possibility of a sale. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn was among an unspecified number of third parties from whom Biogen has received “expressions of interest,” the company said in a statement issued after the market closed.

Rumors of a potential Icahn-assisted takeover have been swirling since August, when it was revealed in an SEC filing that the investor had taken a roughly one percent stake in the company and had won Federal Trade Commission clearance to boost his holdings further. Icahn has a history of “activist” involvement with the companies he invests in, including other biotech firms like MedImmune and ImClone. (For another nice overview of Biogen’s recent history and Icahn’s investing style, see this piece by MarketWatch’s Val Brickates Kennedy.)

In its statement, Biogen emphasized that its board is confident in the company’s strategy and outlook if it continues on as a stand-alone enterprise. “Obviously the board is only going to consider an acquisition if they think that the acquisition offers more shareholder value than us staying independent and executing on our strategic business plan,” director of public affairs Naomi Aoki added in a phone call.

The after-hours market seems to like the idea of a sale, though—Biogen shares are currently up more than 12 points, or almost 18 percent, to $81.60, by our count the highest it has been since a three-for-one stock split in January of 2001.

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