Bristol-Myers Gets FTC Clearance for Celgene Acquisition

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company BMY announced that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has permitted to close the impending merger with Celgene Corporation CELG after accepting the proposed consent order concerning the same.

The clearance comes after Bristol-Myers agreed to divest Celgene’s psoriasis drug, Otezla.

We remind investors that Celgene entered an agreement with Amgen AMGN, whereby the latter would acquire the global rights to Otezla for $13.4 billion.

As a result, Bristol-Myers has now satisfied all regulatory requirements under the merger agreement to complete the acquisition of Celgene and expects to close the transaction on Nov 20, 2019.

It also expects the Otezla divestiture to be completed promptly following the closing of the merger.

We note that Bristol-Myers has a tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor, BMS-986165, in its pipeline, which is being evaluated in several autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis. The regulatory agency was concerned about a possible overlap between Otezla and BMS-986165 in the pipeline. Hence, Bristol-Myers decided to sell Otezla.

Otezla raked in more than $1.4 billion of sales in the first nine months of 2019 and is one of the key growth drivers for Celgene, while BMS-986165 is still in development.

Shares of the company have gained 12.7% in the year so far compared with the industry’s growth of 4.7%.


In January, Bristol-Myers announced that it will acquire Celgene for $74 billion to boost its oncology portfolio, given the stiff competition for Opdivo from the likes of Merck’s MRK Keytruda. However, the acquisition earlier hit a few roadblocks, with a few large shareholders of Bristol-Myers opposing it. The shareholders thought it to be risky and may add significant debt to the balance sheet. Moreover, Celgene’s growth-driving oncology drug, Revlimid, is expected to lose patent protection soon. The acquisition was finally given a green signal in April.

Bristol-Myers currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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