LONDON (Reuters) – Nycomed hopes to pick a U.S. licensing partner for Daxas, its “smoker’s lung” drug, by the end of June and ultimately aims for a stock market listing, the privately held Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday.
Zurich-based Nycomed’s focus on a licensing deal and eventual listing dampens speculation of a takeover by a larger rival.
Nycomed spokeswoman Beatrix Benz said in a statement Daxas had drawn “great interest” from parties proposing to commercialise the drug in the United States.
“Nycomed is optimistic that an agreement can be finalised in the first half of the year, as planned,” she said.
“Nycomed is aiming for a stock market introduction at some stage, depending on timing and market conditions,” she added. “But there is no target date set. Our immediate and primary objective remains to find a licensing partner for Daxas in the United States.”
In March, the Wall Street Journal said Nycomed had hired Goldman Sachs to explore a possible sale of the company, in a deal that could be worth as much as 10 billion euros ($13 billion).
Nycomed and Goldman have declined to comment on their relations but people familiar with the situation said the bank’s primary role was to find a partner for Daxas. Nycomed has said since last November that a licensing deal for the drug could be a prelude to an initial public offering.
Nycomed is majority owned by four private equity firms, led by Nordic Capital. The other three are Credit Suisse’s DLJ Merchant Banking, Coller International Partners and Avista.
Analysts believe Daxas, which targets patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, could become a major seller.
If approved, Nycomed’s oral drug would compete with GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) Advair and Spiriva, marketed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and Boehringer Ingelheim, although it works in a different way by targeting an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 involved in inflammation.
By Quentin Webb and Ben Hirschler
(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)