Bristol-Myers could drop ImClone bid
Jean-Marc Huet, who became chief financial officer at Bristol-Myers five months ago, told analysts yesterday his company could abandon its $4.5 billion offer for the 83 percent of ImClone it doesn't already own.
"There are situations in which we are willing, and we've disclosed that, we're willing to walk away," Huet said in response to a question at a pharmaceutical investors conference in London sponsored by Merrill Lynch.
Asked what his company will do with its available cash - including $3.7 million in net proceeds from its August sale of its high-tech dressing and wound-care business, ConvaTec - Huet said if the ImClone acquisition doesn't happen, "we have a variety of different alternatives in terms of cash usage."
A company spokesman said there would be no additional comment on the issue yesterday.
Huet's comment was the latest in the recent verbal sparring since Bristol-Myers on July 31 made an unsolicited offer of $60 per share for ImClone, which has just one product on the market, Erbitux, a treatment for head and neck and colon cancer.
Days later, ImClone said the buyout offer "substantially undervalues" the company. Its chairman, activist billionaire investor Carl Icahn, was said to be personally against the deal.
Last Wednesday, ImClone said it was considering a buyout offer worth $70 per share - roughly $6.1 billion - from an unidentified pharmaceutical company. The next day, Bristol-Myers reiterated its $60 per share offer, complaining in a letter to Icahn and ImClone's board of directors that ImClone officials had yet to talk to Bristol about its offer. Icahn then fired back that he had tried to reach Bristol-Myers chief executive James N. Cornelius to discuss ImClone's position before making it public.
That leaves the next move up to the secret suitor, which has until a week from tomorrow to review ImClone's books and decide whether to make a firm offer.
Meanwhile, ImClone reported yesterday that Erbitux failed to meet a secondary goal in a study of increasing patients' overall survival, although earlier results from the study showed it did increase patients' survival without their cancer progressing.
ImClone shares fell $3.33 to $60.39, while shares of Bristol-Myers dipped 9 cents to $21.46.