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EXCLUSIVE: Relypsa Being Evaluated By 3-4 Potential Acquirers; Sanofi Seen As 'Natural Buyer'

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EXCLUSIVE: Relypsa Being Evaluated By 3-4 Potential Acquirers; Sanofi Seen As 'Natural Buyer'
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Relypsa Inc (NASDAQ: RLYP) shares are up more than 16 percent on Friday afternoon after unconfirmed reports that Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) could make a bid for the $1.07 billion bio therapeutic company. A source familiar with the matter told Benzinga Merck is not involved with a bid, but that three to four companies are evaluating Relypsa.

The evaluation process is in its early stages and no developments are expected until at least 2016, according to the source.

Relypsa investor relations and a Merck spokesperson have declined comment on the market rumors.

Sanofi Seen As 'Natural Buyer'

In a conversation with Benzinga, Wedbush analyst Liana Moussatos said Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE: SNY) is a "natural buyer" of Relypsa. In August of this year, Relypsa entered into a two-year detailing and distribution agreement with Sanofi for its hyperkalemia treatment, Veltassa, which received FDA approval in late October.

Veltassa is expected to be available to doctors and patients in January 2016 and is the first new treatment for Hyperkalemia in over 50 years.

Billion-Dollar Potential

In a note published shortly after the drug gained FDA approval, Moussatos said she expected Veltassa to have a successful launch to start the New Year, eventually resulting in peak annual sales of more than $1 billion in the US alone. The analyst projected MAA submission would be made in the first half of 2016, followed by a potential launch in the European Union by the middle of 2017.

Moussatos' projections show the drug could reach more than 3 million U.S. patients facing moderate to severe hyperkalemia and over 13 million suffering from a milder case of the condition.

Moussatos holds a $75 12-month price target on Relypsa. Shares currently trade near the $26 mark.

Amid Friday's market gyrations, Stifel released an intra-day note discussing Relypsa's potential takeout value. Analysts there project peak Veltassa U.S. sales of $1.1 billion, translating to a "ZSPH-like" (ZS Pharma Inc (NASDAQ: ZSPH)) $3.3 billion valuation -- approximately $75 per share.

Jake Mann contributed to this report.

Latest Ratings for RLYP

DateFirmActionFromTo
Sep 2016BTIG ResearchTerminatesNeutral
Aug 2016Stifel NicolausDowngradesBuyHold
Aug 2016OppenheimerTerminatesOutperform

View More Analyst Ratings for RLYP
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

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