Samsung Bioepis Responds To Rumor Of Biogen Biosimilars Buyout
Korean Media Suggests Former Partner Could Acquire Remaining Biosimilars Business
Rumors of another major biosimilars deal are spreading after Korean media reported that Samsung Bioepis could be considering a bid for Biogen’s biosimilars business.
After Biogen indicated that it could be considering a sale of its biosimilars business, Korean media reports have pointed to Samsung Bioepis as a potential buyer. However, responding to the rumors in comments to Generics Bulletin, Samsung Bioepis declined to confirm that a deal was in the offing.
Biogen has made it clear for some time that it is considering selling its biosimilars business to a new owner, as part of a strategic review of the unit that was formally kicked off earlier this year.
Speaking during Biogen’s first-quarter results call (see sidebar), CEO Chris Viehbacher confirmed that “we do have a formal process underway to evaluate strategic options for our biosimilars business,” having already hinted during the firm’s fourth-quarter call in February that “we are looking at whether we can do more with that business or maybe whether others should own this business.”
“This is a very good business, and I think especially with the launch of biosimilars for Humira (adalimumab), we are seeing an opportunity for the healthcare system to make important economies,” Viehbacher said. But “we need to think about who is, and how is, the best way to manage this business and who might be the best owner of that business.”
More recently, Biogen intimated that it had seen interest in the business from “multiple interested parties.” (Also see "Biogen Sees Interest In Potential Biosimilars Deal" - Generics Bulletin, 26 Jul, 2023.)
Asked about the deal rumors reported in Korean media – which valued the potential deal at around $775m – a Samsung Bioepis spokesperson told Generics Bulletin that “in regards to media reports on the potential acquisition of Biogen’s biosimilar business unit, we are not in a position to comment on the matter.”
“Samsung Bioepis has always been reviewing various business strategies to boost the company’s growth,” the spokesperson added, “and is currently focusing on developing and expanding our biosimilars portfolio.”
Biogen Already Gave Up Share In Samsung Bioepis
The deal would make sense in terms of the former relationship between Biogen and Samsung Bioepis, given that Bioepis was previously a joint venture collaboration between Biogen and Samsung Biologics.
This relationship changed when Biogen decided to give up its stake in the joint venture, selling it to Samsung Bioepis in a transaction worth up to $2.3bn (see sidebar).
The deal closed in April 2022. (Also see "Biogen Exits Joint Venture As Samsung Biologics Buys Out Bioepis" - Generics Bulletin, 21 Apr, 2022.) However, in the wake of the transaction, Biogen and Samsung Bioepis agreed to continue with their commercialization agreements for various Samsung Bioepis biosimilars including in Europe and the US.
Biogen also has biosimilars interests not linked to Samsung Bioepis, such as its rights to Bio-Thera Solutions’ BAT1806 biosimilar Actemra/RoActemra (tocilizumab) candidate and to Xbrane Biopharma’s certolizumab pegol biosimilar. (Also see "Biogen Delves Deeper Into Biosimilars With Tocilizumab Partnership" - Generics Bulletin, 9 Apr, 2021.) (Also see "Xbrane And Biogen Ally On Certolizumab Pegol Biosimilar" - Generics Bulletin, 8 Feb, 2022.)
A potential deal between Samsung Bioepis and Biogen could see Samsung Bioepis gain access to valuable commercialization infrastructure for its own biosimilars in Europe and the US where it does not have a direct presence.
A similar move was seen between Biocon and Viatris last year when the firms agreed that the Indian developer would buy out the biosimilars business of its longtime partner in a deal worth $3bn. (Also see "Biocon Closes $3bn Deal For Viatris Biosimilars" - Generics Bulletin, 30 Nov, 2022.)
A ‘Low Ball’ Offer?
Commenting on the rumor in a 1 August note, Wells Fargo suggested that the Biogen biosimilars business could be worth more than the reported $775m value.
“We think the media reported offer made by Samsung Bioepis for Biogen’s biosimilar business is a low ball offer,” the analyst opined, suggesting that “the real value of this profitable business could be around $1.3bn-$1.5bn.”
“The offer appears low to us,” Wells Fargo said, “because this seems to be applying ~4x net profit multiple on Biogen’s profit share of net profits which we estimate at ~$190m for 2023. We think the real value of this business could be as high as double of this.”
Noting that Biogen’s biosimilars business “is profitable and generated $217m in profits for Biogen in 2022 after accounting for payout to Samsung Bioepis” – based on “the amount Biogen paid to Samsung Bioepis last year as part of the collaboration profits” – the analyst said “we model this business to generate $223m in profits this year.”
And “long term, we see Biogen’s share growing to $300m+ with the help of newly launched Lucentis (ranibizumab) biosimilar and Eylea (aflibercept) later on.” (Also see "Samsung Bioepis Goes After Lucentis With 40% Cheaper Byooviz Launch In US" - Generics Bulletin, 2 Jun, 2022.)