Amgen shareholders approve takeover of rival Immunex

By Paul Elias The Associated Press
Friday May 17, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — Amgen Inc. shareholders on Thursday approved the company’s proposed acquisition of rival Immunex Corp. 

Immunex shareholders were expected to approve the biotechnology industry’s largest merger later Thursday. Health care company Wyeth, which owns 41 percent of Immunex’s stock, has said it would vote for the deal. 

Federal regulators still need to approve the deal, which would create a biotechnology company with a market capitalization of about $67 billion. Company executives said they expect the Federal Trade Commission’s approval some time this year. 

To allay any possible regulatory concerns, Immunex earlier this month sold its Leukine cancer-fighting drug to Schering AG for $380 million. Leukine is similar to Amgen’s Neupogen. 

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, offered $14.8 billion in stock and $2 billion in cash for Seattle-based Immunex when the deal was announced Dec. 17. 

Since then, Amgen’s stock has dropped nearly 15 percent from $59.49 a share when the deal was announced. Amgen’s share price was down $1.01, or 2 percent, to $50.34 in late afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Thursday. Immunex was down 55 cents, or 2 percent, to $26.36 in trading on the Nasdaq. 

Once the deal closes Amgen — which also makes the blockbuster anemia drug Epogen — also will own Enbrel, a drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis. 

Enbrel accounted for about $750 million in sales last year and could reach $3 billion annually by 2005, Amgen chief executive Kevin Sharer has said. 





On the Net: 

Amgen: http://www.amgen.com 

Immunex: http://www.immunex.com