January 31, 2018 / 3:08 PM / 10 months ago

GRAPHIC-Biotech M&A explodes with $27.5 bln of January deals

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Biotech deal-making is the hottest in more than a decade with $27.5 billion of transactions agreed this month and bankers reporting an above-average number of discussions that could lead to fresh activity through 2018.

France's Sanofi and U.S.-based Celgene have led the charge, reflecting the desire of both large drugmakers and big biotech businesses to tap small and innovative upstarts as a key source of new medicines.

After a relatively subdued 2017, there is a renewed sense of confidence about M&A among acquirers who are hungry for promising assets to replenish drug pipelines, helped by U.S. tax cuts that have made it easier to deploy overseas cash.

This month's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) highlights include:

- Sanofi's acquisitions of Bioverativ for $11.6 billion and Ablynx for $4.8 billion

- Celgene's $9 billion buyout of Juno Therapeutics, as well as Impact Biomedicines for an upfront $1.1 billion (and as much as $7 billion if certain milestones are reached)

- Varian Medical Systems' acquisition of Sirtex Medical for $1.3 billion

- Takeda Pharmaceutical buying TiGenix for $630 million

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter

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