Actelion Says U.S. Tax-Inversion Limits Good for Industry
The U.S. government’s move to hamper tax-inversion deals is good for the drug industry because it forces companies to focus on intrinsic business reasons for transactions, Actelion Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel said.
Since the U.S. Treasury said last month that it would tighten tax rules, three of eight deals that would have shifted American company headquarters abroad for tax-saving purposes have fallen apart. AbbVie Inc. yesterday terminated its planned 32 billion-pound ($52 billion) acquisition of Shire Plc, saying the policy changes undermined the rationale for the purchase.
“People will have to be very careful in their acquisitions,” Clozel said in a telephone interview today. “I’m very happy with this new evolution. I do hope that people make acquisitions because of the value of the companies and not because of tax.”
Actelion, the Allschwil, Switzerland-based maker of Tracleer lung treatment, has become a perennial subject of takeover speculation. In 2010, Amgen Inc. considered making an offer, and the following year Clozel fought off a hedge fund that sought seats on the board and urged the company to sell itself. Actelion (ATLN) is not for sale, Clozel said today.
Other pharmaceutical-industry transactions that have been dropped since the U.S. Treasury announcement include Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s planned merger with Canadian biotechnology company QLT Ltd. and Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd.’s proposed deal with Italy’s Cosmo Pharmaceuticals SpA.
Actelion is “very unlikely” to do a big deal of its own because it’s looking for products that are in the later stages of development or are already approved, Clozel said.
“It’s very difficult to find acquisitions at a reasonable price,” he said. “We do not want to take risks. We would not want to add risk to the company.”