Bristol-Myers CEO Says Celgene Purchase Not a ‘Defensive’ Move

(Bloomberg) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s chief executive officer said that while the drugmaker had talked with other companies about possible deals, none of those conversations got serious enough to lead to an actual offer.

The drugmaker has been trying to tamp down speculation that its $74 billion acquisition of Celgene Corp. was a play to escape a takeover by another large pharmaceutical company, after investors including Bristol-Myers’ No. 2 shareholder raised questions about the deal or sought to block it.

“This is not defensive deal,” Bristol-Myers CEO Giovanni Caforio said Tuesday at an investor conference. While he had discussions with other CEOs, those talks were at very high level and ended in 2017, Caforio said. There was no discussion of terms or an offer, he said.

Since the deal was announced, companies including Pfizer Inc., AbbVie Inc. and Merck & Co. have said they aren’t interested in large takeovers.

Celgene shares, which are up 29 percent since the Bristol-Myers deal was announced Jan. 3, rose 0.9 percent to $86.03 at 3:11 p.m. Tuesday in New York trading. That’s still well below the cash-and-stock offer’s value, about $100. Bristol-Myers fell 0.6 percent to $50.62.

Bristol-Myers has been working to persuade investors to support the deal ahead of an April 12 vote on the takeover.

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