Laval, Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX) announced today that it will acquire Mercury (Cayman) Holdings, the holding company of Amoun Pharmaceutical, for about $800 million and contingent payments.

Amoun Pharmaceutical is one of the leading drug makers in Egypt. It has a large manufacturing facility in El-Oubour City, a suburb near Cairo, and five commercial branches throughout the country, including in Mansoura, Assiut and Alexandria.

The acquisition marks Valeant’s push into the Middle East and Africa. Amoun’s branded products include treatments for diarrhea, infections and hypertension.

Valeant, which has been dubbed a “serial acquirer,” bought more than 100 smaller companies since 2008. In 2014, the company gained attention with a joint hostile takeover bid for Allergan Inc., maker of Botox, with Bill Ackman’s New York hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management.

That bid brought on an investigation by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) over possible insider trading. In March 2014, Pershing Square purchased about 10 percent of Allergan Inc. (AGN)’s stock. A month later Valeant and Pershing Square announced their joint bid, and the stock jumped 15 percent, which gave Pershing $1 billion in gains.

That deal eventually fell through. In February 2015 Valeant announced it was buying Seattle-based Dendreon Corporation (DNDN) assets. Valeant was a “stalking horse” for the auction, providing a floor bid of $296 million. By the end of the auction, Valeant had acquired Dendreon’s prostate cancer drug Provenge and other assets for $400 million in cash.

In April, Valeant acquired Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. (SLXP). Salix markets Xifaxan, Ruconest, Apriso, Uceris, Relistor and other gastroenterology medications. Valeant outbid Endo International (ENDP) for Salix with a $11 billion bid.

Shortly after acquiring Salix, the company cleaned house laying off 258 employees. This was only a month after the company cut 77 jobs related to the Dendreon acquisition.

In July, a subsidiary of Valeant acquired Largo, Fla.-based Unilens Vision Inc. for about $28 million, as well as $5 million in company debt. Valeant has a specialty contact lens business, and the Unilens acquisition strengthens that position.

In the same market, on July 10, 2015 the company inked a development and commercialization deal with Waltham, Mass.-based Eyegate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. that grants Valeant worldwide commercial and manufacturing rights to Eyegate II Delivery System and EGP-437, a combination product in the field of uveitis.

And although it has not been locked down yet, Valeant broached the possibility of acquiring animal health business Zoetis (GZTS) in June. Zoetis was spun off from Pfizer Inc. in 2013. It is the biggest manufacturer of vaccines and drugs for livestock and household pets. In November 2014, William Ackman’s Pershing Square acquired eight percent of Zoetis stock and took a board seat.



July 17, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff