Ever since ImClone Systems (IMCL) rejected a 60-a-share bid from Bristol-Meyers Squibb while saying that it had a better bid on the table, investors have been wondering who the mystery bidder might be. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Eli Lilly (LLY) is bidding $70 a share.
The mystery began when activist investor Carl Icahn, ImClone’s chairman, said he had “several conversations with” the CEO of a large, unnamed pharmaceutical company that was willing to bid more for the company.
Many had suspected that German company Merck KgaA, which sells ImClone’s Erbitux cancer treatment in Europe, might be the bidder. Yesterday, however, Merck chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley said they weren’t prepared to bid for the whole company but might be open to a partnership for purchaseing ImClone. What’s more, Merck probably never had the $6.1 billion that Icahn said the secret bidder was offering. Pfizer was also one of the companies interested in buying ImClone.
Interestingly, Eli Lilly will have to enrich Bristol to buy the company—Bristol owns roughly 17% of ImClone and holds the U.S. marketing rights for Erbitux.