Elan says it has $2 billion in cash for deals

Wednesday 24 April 2013 19.09
Elan says global Tysabri sales rose by 14% in first quarter of 2013
Elan says global Tysabri sales rose by 14% in first quarter of 2013

Elan has reported a net loss from continuing operations of €72.8m for the three months to the end of March. This compares to a net loss of €74.7m the same time last year.

The company said that first quarter global Tysabri sales increased by 14% to €456m from €390m in the first quarter of 2012.

Elan said it now has about $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents, which it said provides it with substantial capacity for deals to diversify its business and grow shareholder value.

The Dublin-based pharma company is involved in a convoluted takeover saga with Royalty Pharma for the past two months.

It rejected a reduced $11.25 per share bid from the US investment company on Monday, saying it grossly undervalued its future prospects.

While shareholders wait to see if Royalty values lucrative revenues tied to the blockbuster drug Tysabri enough to come back with a higher bid, Elan said it had $2 billion at its disposal to fund an alternative plan to rebuild the company.

Elan sold its 50% interest in Tysabri for $3.25 billion plus royalty rights to US partner Biogen Idec in February and has already spoken to several companies about spending the bulk of that windfall on acquisitions.

"We are confident that these discussions will deliver significant value-creating opportunities for Elan and our shareholders," Elan chief executive Kelly Martin said in a statement today.

Under the Tysabri deal, Elan's royalty payments will be 12% of sales in the first year, 18% after that, and 25% when annual sales rise above $2 billion. One fifth of the royalty stream will be paid out to shareholders under a dividend plan outlined shortly after the Royalty approach.

Elan also returned $1 billion to shareholders last week in a share buyback that resulted in US healthcare firm Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N cutting its stake in the company to 4.9% from 18%.

Sales of Tysabri rose to $1.6 billion last year and Biogen has long aimed to increase patient numbers over time to 100,000 from 72,700 at the end of last year, a level that Elan says would hand it the maximum percentage of royalty shares.

It said today that sales of the drug, which competes with oral drugs such as Novartis Gilenya and Biogen's new Tecfidera pill, rose by 28% in the US but by just 0.3% elsewhere after a further $13.9m of revenue was deferred in Italy.

Elan's $72.8 million first-quarter net loss from continuing operations did not include any revenues associated with Tysabri, the Dublin-based company said.