Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Biogen's Stock Rises on Takeover Chatter

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Shares of Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O) were nearly 5 percent higher on Tuesday amid stock market speculation the biotechnology company could be a takeover target, traders said.

Shares of Biogen were up 4.9 percent to $52.05 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq. Biogen's gains countered weakness in the biotech index .BTK, which was down 1.9 percent.

"Biogen Idec is recently up ... on renewed takeover chatter," said Paul Foster, options strategist at theflyonthewall.com.

Biogen decline to comment.

Traders in Europe said there were market rumors that Sanofi-Aventis SA (SASY.PA) could bid at least $75 a share for Biogen. Sanofi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Biogen has been under renewed pressure from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who plans to nominate his own slate to serve on the biotechnology company's board of directors.

"Biogen is getting a lot of attention again on hopes that Icahn can gain some traction and push it toward a sale," said one trader who declined to be named.

Biogen, which won a previous proxy battle against Icahn, has recommended that its stockholders vote against Icahn's latest proposal.

Icahn previously accused Biogen of deliberately sabotaging an earlier auction of the company because it would not allow potential bidders to talk to its partners, Elan Corp Plc (ELN.I) of Ireland and biotechnology company Genentech Inc.

Biogen, which sells the multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri, and the cancer drug Rituxan, said it conducted a responsible auction, but no buyer was interested in acquiring the company for an acceptable price.

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