Amylin Seeks a Buyer (AMLN, CS, GS, BMY, SNY, LLY, AZN, MRK)

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Diabetes drug maker Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AMLN) has hired bankers and lawyers to help the company find a buyer. In February Amylin turned down a $3.5 billion ($22/share) offer from Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY), and the company’s third-largest shareholder, Carl Icahn, has demanded that the company put itself up for sale and the right to nominate his own directors. Amylin has hired Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) as financial advisers.

One potential buyer is Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), the Paris-based drug company that is developing a similar treatment for diabetes. Amylin ended a long relationship with Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) last November, but still owes Lilly payments of $1.2 billion over the next several years. AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN) is another drug maker believed to be on the look-out for an acquisition as is Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK).

Amylin’s diabetes drugs Byetta and Bydureon are both approved for use in the US. Byetta is a twice-weekly injection for Type 2 diabetes, while Bydureon, which was approved only in January, is a once-a-week injection for the disease. Diabetes affects some 300 million people worldwide and 26 million in the US alone. Drugs to combat the disease could be enormous sellers.

The market is very happy with the news from Amylin. Shares are up more than 10% in the pre-market this morning, at $25.15 in a 52-week range of $

Paul Ausick