Serono, Europe’s largest biotechnology company, is reportedly about to find itself the target of takeover interest from the region’s two biggest drugmakers.GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis are both said by sources to be considering bids for Serono, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. There is also speculation that Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis might be interested.
Nobody in any of the firms concerned will officially confirm the reports. The idea that Novartis is keen was boosted by the announcement that it is not going to try to buy another Swiss company, the vaccine maker Berna Biotech.Serono’s treatment for multiple sclerosis, called Rebif, is what is attacting the interest.
Rebif accounts for more than half of its annual sales. Both Novartis and Glaxo are developing their own oral MS drugs. Serono’s shares are at their highest level in three years. They have risen 28% since last November due to optimism about a sale.