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Nycomed: Changing (Private) Hands

Executive Summary

Closed public markets didn't stop private equity group Nordic Capital from selling its investment in Denmark's Nycomed for a tidy profit. CSFB Private Equity and a group of other investors paid more than $1 billion for a firm they believe has plenty of growth potential yet.

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Merck KGAA surprised observers when it announced the €10.6 billion takeover of Europe's biggest biotech, Serono. There was more consolidation to come. That same day, the Danish pharmaceutical group Nycomed Group said it would acquire Altana Pharma for about €4.5 billion in cash. Only a couple days later, UCB SA entered the fray with the acquisition of Schwarz Pharma AG for €4.2 billion in cash and stock. Can these bulked up companies present serious competition for Big Pharma on the licensing front?

Europe's Flavors of Sustainable BioPharma

Europe's financing environment makes it difficult to build big biotech from scratch. But sustainable biopharma firms are nevertheless emerging--mostly through the transformation of existing pharma assets.

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Europe's financing and regulatory environment means that it has been, and will continue to be, very difficult to build Amgen-style big biotech from scratch here. But a sustainable industry of large biotechs is nevertheless emerging-mostly through the transformation of existing big or mid-sized pharma assets. Big Pharma spin outs, created to circumvent prohibitive labor laws, and small, R&D-embracing in-licensing firms are two important sources. But so are the mid-sized drug firms--another largely European phenomenon. The potential transformation of UCB into a big biotech, triggered by the acquisition of Celltech, is the most recent example.

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