Merck & Co and Allergan eye US biotechnology company Biogen

Pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co Inc and Allergan Plc are eying buying US biotechnology company Biogen Inc, The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The paper said that the talks were informal and preliminary, and added that it may not result in a deal, in part because Biogen may not be interested, while CNBC said that Allergan might not pursue a deal.

Biogen shares closed at $330.11 yesterday, giving the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company a market cap of around $72.33 billion.

Founded in 1978, Biogen is one of the world's oldest biotechnology companies focusing on treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, hematologic conditions and autoimmune disorders and its leading therapies include multiple sclerosis and hemophilia.

Biogen's Avonex, Tysabri, and Tecfidera are market-leading therapies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a major neurological disease that affects 2 million people worldwide.

These drugs accounted for around 80 per cent of the company's $11.29 billion in revenue last year.

Biogen is a very profitable company having nearly $1 billion cash in hand and net debt of $2.75 billion. Its main competitors are Amgen, Celgene, and Gilead Sciences.