Report: Lilly offers $6.1B for ImClone

Eli Lilly and Co. is in late talks to acquire ImClone Systems Inc. for $6.1 billion, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal’s Web site. The New York biotech firm develops various medicines for cancer treatments.

Lilly would pay $70 per share for ImClone, the Journal said. The deal would be one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of Lilly, which has shunned big acquisitions in the past.

In 2007, ImClone posted a profit of $40 million on revenue of $590 million. The company’s main product is Erbitux, a treatment for colorectal cancer.

Last month, ImClone Chairman Carl Icahn turned down a $62-a-share offer from New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. He told the Journal then that ImClone was in talks with “a large pharma” company.

Lilly has a market capitalization of $50 billion.

Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a speech on Sept. 24 that Lilly was on the prowl for acquisitions.

“You should expect us to put our financial strength to work in the pharma space as well,” he told an audience at the Economic Club of Indiana. “We’re constantly on the lookout to in-license promising molecules or even to make acquisitions that help Lilly into new or complementary therapeutic areas.”

Lilly spokeswoman Angela Sekston said, “We certainly don’t comment on rumor and speculation.” Sekston said she hadn’t seen the Journal report, and couldn’t comment until she did.

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