Shareholders’ nod puts $74bn BMS Celgene merger back on track

Over 75% of Bristol-Myers Squibb shareholders voted in favor of the proposed megamerger with Celgene despite warnings from certain investor groups.

In January, Big Pharma firm Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced its intentions to get bigger through the acquisition of its immune-oncology partner Celgene. The $74 billion (€65 billion), if it goes through, will be the largest ever merger in the biopharma space and create what Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio described as “the number one oncology franchise.”

The deal is on track to close in the third quarter of 2019 after Bristol-Myers Squibb shareholders voted in favor of the merger. Over three-quarters of shareholders – 932,407,066 – voted for the deal, 293,574,837 voted against, and 4,628,357 abstained, according to the outcome of a special meeting of stockholders that took place on April 12.

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“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s Special Meeting and thank our shareholders for their support for this combination,” Caforio said following the vote.

“Together with Celgene, we will create a premier innovative biopharma company with leading scientific capabilities that is well positioned to address the needs of patients through high-value innovative medicines. We look forward to bringing the companies together, which we believe will deliver significant shareholder value.”

In February, several investor groups undermined the proposed merger.

Jeffrey Smith, managing member of the New York-based investment adviser firm wrote: “We believe that Bristol-Myers is deeply undervalued and the recent announcement of the Company’s proposed acquisition of Celgene Corporation is poorly conceived and ill-advised.”

At the time, Wellington Management Company, the largest institutional holder of BMS’ common stock which controls around 8%, also stated its opposition.

“While Wellington agrees that Bristol-Myers should be active in business development that secures differentiated science and broadens the future revenue base, Wellington does not believe that the Celgene transaction is an attractive path towards accomplishing this goal,” the investment management firm said.

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