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Sobi in talks on bid for company

[STOCKHOLM] Swedish Orphan Biovitrum , which specializes in selling medicines for rare diseases, said it had received a preliminary proposal for a bid on the firm, the latest company to be sucked into a whirl of deal-making in the healthcare sector.

The confirmation followed a report from Bloomberg saying the company had held on and off talks with potential buyers since last year and was reviewing a preliminary takeover offer.

Orphan Biovitrum, also known as Sobi, did not identify the other company in a statement released on Monday.

Its portfolio could appeal to big pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, which are looking to build up their portfolios of rare diseases, as well as large US-based biotech companies with profitable businesses that are now seeking to expand.

M&A activity in the healthcare sector this year is running at double the year-ago level, according to Thomson Reuters data. "The Board confirms that it has received a preliminary and conditional non-binding proposal in relation to a possible offer for all shares issued by the company," Sobi said in the statement. "There can be no certainty that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any such offer."

Sobi specializes in an area of growing interest to many players in the industry, given the high prices that such treatments for rare diseases often command.

Advances in genetics also mean that many more conditions affecting only a few thousands of patients are now becoming amenable to drug therapies.

Sobi's head of communications, Oskar Bosson, said the offer came "very recently".

The company's shares were up 18 per cent at 0826 GMT.

The Swedish medical technology company Aerocrine confirmed on Monday it was in preliminary discussions with a third party concerning a public offer for Aerocrine.