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Pfizer Leans Toward Tuck-In Deals

Published: June 22nd, 2020
This year, Pfizer’s first under the leadership of Albert Bourla, the biopharma company has done deals including the purchase of Array BioPharma and Therachon.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) will likely do more tuck-in acquisitions rather than engage in larger M&A, according to the biopharmaceutical giant’s general counsel Doug Lankler at The Deal Economy Conference in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

“It’s less likely to be larger M&A,” said Lankler, a 20-year Pfizer veteran who has served as general counsel since December 2013. “It’s more likely to be tuck-ins.”

This year — Pfizer’s first under the leadership of Albert Bourla — the New York-based company has done deals including the acquisition of commercial-stage biopharmaceutical firm Array BioPharma Inc. for a total enterprise value of about $11.4 billion and the purchase of clinical-stage biotechnology firm Therachon Holding AG for $340 million upfront plus up to an additional $470 million in potential milestone payments. Both transactions closed in July.

In March, Pfizer bought a 15% stake in gene therapy company Vivet Therapeutics and obtained an exclusive option to buy all outstanding shares. Pfizer paid about €45 million (about $50 million) upon signing and may pay up to €560 million inclusive of the option exercise payment and subject to clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones.

“Albert has hit the ground running,” Lankler said.

Bourla, who succeeded long-time CEO Ian Read in January, earlier oversaw acquisitions including cancer drug developer Medivation Inc. for $14 billion in 2016, atopic dermatitis drug developer Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $5.2 billion in 2016 and Baxter International Inc.’s (BAX) portfolio of marketed vaccines for $635 million in 2014.

“We believe in our pipeline,” Lankler said, adding that company’s pipeline is good and diverse. That belief led the company to move toward becoming a pure-play innovative biopharmaceutical company, he said.

Lankler’s appearance at the conference comes as Pfizer and Mylan NV are working on securing regulators’ nod for their deal, announced in July, that would combine Pfizer’s off-patent branded and generic established medicines unit with Mylan. The new company that will be formed from the merger will be 57% owned by Pfizer shareholders and 43% by Mylan shareholders.

The Federal Trade Commission in October issued a request for additional information from Pfizer and Mylan on the transaction.

In an on-stage interview with The Deal senior reporter Steve Gelsi at the conference, Lankler addressed topics including corporate governance, due diligence and antitrust.

Lankler joined Pfizer in 1999 has held roles over the years including deputy general counsel and chief compliance and risk officer. Before joining Pfizer, Lankler was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Earlier, he was an associate in the litigation department at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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