January 31, 2018 / 3:21 PM / a year ago

Biotech M&A explodes with $27.5 billion of January deals

A logo is seen in front of the entrance at the headquarters French drugmaker Sanofi in Paris October 30, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Biotech deal-making is the hottest in more than a decade with $27.5 billion of transactions agreed this month and bankers reporting an above-average number of discussions that could lead to fresh activity through 2018.

France’s Sanofi (SASY.PA) and U.S.-based Celgene (CELG.O) have led the charge, reflecting the desire of both large drugmakers and big biotech businesses to tap small and innovative upstarts as a key source of new medicines.

After a relatively subdued 2017, there is a renewed sense of confidence about M&A among acquirers who are hungry for promising assets to replenish drug pipelines, helped by U.S. tax cuts that have made it easier to deploy overseas cash.

This month’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) highlights include:

- Sanofi’s acquisitions of Bioverativ BIVV.O for $11.6 billion and Ablynx ABLX.BR for $4.8 billion

- Celgene’s $9 billion buyout of Juno Therapeutics JUNO.O, as well as Impact Biomedicines for an upfront $1.1 billion (and as much as $7 billion if certain milestones are reached)

- Varian Medical Systems’ (VAR.N) acquisition of Sirtex Medical SRX.AX for $1.3 billion

- Takeda Pharmaceutical (4502.T) buying TiGenix G9U.BR for $630 million

(Biotech boom IMG graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2DR1yVR)

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter

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