Allergan takeover rewrites activist investor rules

Valeant Pharmaceuticals has teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman and Pershing Square Capital Management for a $47 billion deal to acquire Botox maker Allergan.

By Staff Apr 22, 2014 12:28PM

Allergan Pred Forte eye drops © Stuwdamdorp/AlamyBy Antoine Gara, TheStreet

Pershing Square Capital Management may be re-writing the rules of activist investing after teaming up with Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) on a takeover bid for Allergan (AGN). Valeant will offer Allergan $48.30 a share in cash and 0.83 of its shares in the bid, which values Allergan at an about 10 percent premium to its Monday closing share price. 

The takeover effort is the first that counts an activist hedge fund investor as a crucial piece and it raises the prospect of similar marriages between activist investors and deal-seeking corporations looking to press an unsolicited merger. logoValeant Pharmaceuticals and Pershing Square disclosed on Monday that they had struck a deal to acquire over $4 billion worth of Allergan's stock, or approximately 9.7 percent of the company's outstanding shares, as part of an unsolicited effort to merge the two pharma industry giants. On Tuesday, Valeant released details of its bid, including estimates of $2.7 billion in annual operating synergies in the event of a merger and the prospect of a 20-cent dividend.

While Allergan is most well known for its Botox treatments, Valeant Pharmaceuticals has emerged as one of the fastest growing generic drug manufacturers in the world. 

That prospective merger between Valeant and Allergan will contain a cash component of $15.5 billion with the rest of the transaction financed with stock. Such a merger would be among the largest pharmaceutical deals in recent memory and values Allergan at over $45 billion. Valeant and Allergan both closed Monday trading with a market capitalization of around $42 billion.

Barclays and Royal Bank of Canada have agreed to financing commitments to cover the cash portion of a deal.

"The combination of Valeant and Allergan represents the most strategic and value-creating transaction I have ever analyzed," Bill Ackman, head of Pershing Square, said in a statement on Tuesday. Ackman said Pershing would elect to take all-stock in a transaction as part of a long-term investment.

"This proposal represents an undeniable opportunity to create extraordinary value for both Allergan and Valeant shareholders by establishing an unrivaled platform with leading positions in ophthalmology, dermatology, aesthetics, dental and the emerging markets," Michael Pearson, CEO of Valeant, said in a statement.

A New Type of Mega Deal

A possible merger between Valeant and Allergan, on its face, isn't surprising. Valeant has indicated that after a string of acquisitions, the company was again on the prowl for a large deal. The inclusion of Pershing Square and a set of contingencies that tie both parties together, however, may break new ground in activist investing.

A source familiar with the deal said it was Valeant Pharmaceuticals that reached out to Pershing Square about a bid for Allergan in February.

Because Valeant reached out to Pershing, that source said there were no insider trading issues in building an Allergan stake because no fiduciary duty was breached. ValueAct Capital Management, a large investor in Valeant Pharmaceuticals shares with two seats on the company's board of directors, is supportive of Monday's developments, the source said.

Pershing is putting up most of the money for the 9.7 percent Allergan stake, its largest-ever single stock investment, however, the hedge fund didn't need to collect outside funding. Instead, Pershing redeployed proceeds garnered by the recent takeover of whiskey giant Beam (BEAM) and a sale of its General Growth Properties (GGP) shares.

The structure that Valeant and Pershing agreed on is complicated, however, the salient points are that Pershing is taking most of the risk in the $4 billion Allergan stake and the fund could become one of Valeant's top long-term shareholders were a merger with Allergan ever consummated.

Pershing and Valeant created a vehicle, called PS Fund 1, where Valeant contributed $75.9 million to acquire Allergan stock. Funds managed by Pershing Square are responsible for the remaining investment, however, Valeant will have a right to 15 percent of the net profits of the Pershing funds if a third party emerges as an acquirer of Allergan.

For its part, Pershing has committed to vote in favor of Valeant's merger proposal. If a deal does emerge, Pershing has committed to buying $400 million of Valeant shares at a 15 percent discount to the market price at that time. Were that transaction to be completed, Pershing will be required to hold Valeant shares worth at least $1.5 billion for at least 12 months.

On Tuesday, Valeant said its cash and stock bid would lead to a high single-digit tax rate for the combined company, in addition to synergies nearing $3 billion, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. Overall, Valeant forecast that a merger could generate 25 percent to 30 percent earnings per share accretion in  the first year after a deal is completed. Additionally, compound EPS growth is forecast in the 15 percent to 20 percent range. Valeant also forecast at least $300 million in annual R&D spending for late-stage pharmaceutical projects.

Allergan shares were rising over 20 percent to $171.00 in pre-market Tuesday trading. Valeant Pharmaceuticals rose nearly 10 percent in after-market trading on Monday, indicating investors believe forecasts of synergies and EPS growth are credible.

More from TheStreet

Apr 23, 2014 9:01AM
The best defense is a ban on mergers and acquisitions. No business platform in existence today is a real enterprise. Get rid of Wall Street's tyranny over everything. If these mongers want a business... they can start one up. Stocks suck.
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