Horizon Therapeutics shares soar amid sale talks

Dublin-headquartered business develops treatments for rare diseases

The Horizon Therapeutics logo in a living 'mummified' moss wall at the company’s global headquarters on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. The life sciences group has attracted takeover interest. Photograph: Dominic Coyle

Irish-headquartered Horizon Therapeutics soared in post-market US trading on Tuesday night after the developer of medicines for rare autoimmune and inflammatory diseases said it is in talks with a trio of potential suitors about a possible sale of the company.

Amgen, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi are separately engaged in preliminary discussions with Horizon, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. There’s no certainty that any of the talks will lead to an offer. Horizon rose 30 per cent in trading after markets closed in New York.

Emerging from the exhausting focus on Covid-19, big drug makers are resuming their search for innovative therapies, especially for those that treat rare diseases and cancer. Merck earlier this year scuttled an estimated $37 billion (€35.7 billion) (bid for oncology drug maker Seagen, though it agreed this month to purchase Imago BioSciences to gain therapies for rare bone marrow conditions that lead to overproduction of blood cells.

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Horizon had dropped 27 per cent so far this year until Tuesday’s close, valuing the company at $17.8 billion. The company gets almost half of its $3.6 billion in annual sales from Tepezza, a treatment for a painful autoimmune condition called thyroid eye disease. Other top drugs include Krystexxa for chronic gout and Ravicti, a treatment for inborn urea disorders.


Horizon is “a premier biotech company that offers significant growth opportunities across both commercialised and pipeline assets, Guggenheim Partners analysts led by Yatin Suneja said in a note. Based on sales estimates, they see a potential deal value of $25 billion to $30 billion.

Under Irish law, each company would have until January 10th to either step up with an offer or say it’s backing out, said Horizon. The company mostly operates in the US, with operations in Deerfield, Illinois, and Rockville, Maryland. It has been Dublin-headquartered since 2014 and opened a new HQ on St Stephen’s Green earlier this year. In August, it said it would create 350 jobs in Waterford through the expansion of a plant it bought there last year. — Bloomberg