French drugmaker Sanofi has agreed to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx for 3.9 billion euros ($4.8 billion), beating Novo Nordisk and marking its second big deal this month after buying Bioverativ.
The deal is a further sign of accelerating mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity in the global biotech sector and comes after Ablynx rejected a 2.6 billion euro offer from Denmark's Novo Nordisk.
Sanofi said on Monday it would pay 45 euros per share in cash for Ablynx, a premium of 21.2 percent over its closing price on Friday - and more than double the price before Novo went public with its initial offer.
This month has seen a spike in multibillion-dollar deals in biotech, with U.S.-based Celgene paying $9 billion for cancer specialist Juno Therapeutics, and several experts predicting a bumper year for M&A.
Such deals are being driven by the need of large drugmakers to tap the promising new medicines being developed by smaller rivals to help revive flagging growth.
"With Ablynx, we continue to advance the strategic transformation of our research and development, expanding our late-stage pipeline and strengthening our platform for growth in rare blood disorders," Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt said.
Last week, Sanofi agreed to buy U.S. haemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion, its biggest deal for seven years and a major play to strengthen its presence in treatments for rare diseases.
Sanofi said Ablynx would boost long-term value for its shareholders, while the takeover was expected to have a neutral impact on Sanofi's business earnings per share (EPS) in 2018 and 2019.