ImClone Hires JPMorgan to Weigh Options

Biotechnology company ImClone Systems, which rebuffed a $60-per-share takeover offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb, said on Thursday it hired JP Morgan Chase as its financial


JP Morgan will help ImClone study Bristol's offer in more detail, and weigh a possible plan to split ImClone into two businesses, sources familiar with the situation said.

Formal talks between ImClone and Bristol have not yet begun, sources said. JP Morgan and Bristol declined to comment.

Earlier this month, ImClone rejected as too low Bristol's offer to acquire the shares of ImClone it did not already own in a deal that valued the company at $5.2 billion.

ImClone, meanwhile, said its board had been discussing the possibility of separating its Erbitux cancer treatment business and its drug-development pipeline operations.

Erbitux is approved for colorectal and head and neck cancer in the United States and Canada, while a recent approval for the drug in Japan and new lung cancer data are expected to drive sales.

ImClone said it believed the pipeline business "may be extremely valuable and significantly increase stockholder value as a separate business."

Activist investor Carl Icahn, chairman of ImClone and a large shareholder of the company, had said he opposed Bristol-Myers' offer because he believes it "greatly undervalues the company."

Also up for debate is an ImClone antibody, IMC-11F8, that is under development. If approved for sale, ImClone has said the antibody "might have a significant competitive effect on Erbitux," and Bristol-Myers may have no rights to market that product.

Bristol previously termed its offer for ImClone "full and fair" and said it believed it has rights to the follow-on drug to Erbitux.

ImClone shares fell 25 cents to $63.70 on Nasdaq, while Bristol gained 11 cents to $22.09 on the New York Stock Exchange.