ImClone and Eli Lilly announced Monday that Lilly offered to buy the company for $6.5 billion. Lilly turned out to be the $70-per-share mystery suitor, as was rumored last week. The acquisition will strengthen Lilly’s oncology portfolio, which includes “Gemzar” and “Alimta,” and now, ImClone’s “Erbitux.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb, which co-markets Erbitux in the US, issued a statement on Monday in which James M. Cornelius, chairman and chief executive officer of BMS, gave the deal his blessing. “We are pleased to have initiated a process that has resulted in the substantial increase of ImClone’s value for all of its stockholders,” said Cornelius. “We are also proud to have contributed to this creation of value by providing commercial and R&D support to the company over the course of our relationship, which will continue now with Eli Lilly, a well-respected research organization.”
BMS chairman said the company stands by its decision not to raise its Sept. 22 bid of $62 per share, the offer that was called “absurd” by ImClone Chairman Carl C. Icahn in one of a series of letters the heads of the companies exchanged last month. BMS has no plans to pursue ImClone further, and Cornelius said the company looks forward to working with Lilly on Erbitux and other cancer compounds. BMS expects to receive $1 million for its 16.6% stake in ImClone.
With BMS out of the bidding picture, it would seem to be the end of one of many dramatic chapters in ImClone’s history, which includes the insider-trading scandal that jailed ImClone founder Sam Waksal, Martha Stewart, and her broker, Peter Bacanovic. But more drama may be on the horizon, as BMS and ImClone seem to disagree about commercialization rights for the compound IMC-11F8, which is in Phase II trials for colorectal cancer. Icahn and Cornelius argued about BMS’s rights in their publicly released letters in September, and Cornelius mentioned the compound once again in his statement on Monday.