a sign stands in front of a Bristol-Myers Squibb building in a Lawrence Township, New Jersey. Image Credit: AP

Boston: Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to acquire Celgene Corp. in a $74 billion (Dh271.8 billion) deal that will unite two drugmakers battling for advantage in a crowded market for innovative cancer treatments.

Both companies have faced investor wariness about their prospects in recent months. Bristol makes an immunotherapy drug called Opdivo that accounts for roughly a quarter of its sales, but that has trailed a rival medication from Merck & Co. Celgene, meanwhile, has been looking for a follow-up for its blockbuster blood-cancer therapy Revlimid.

The proposed union of the two companies represents a big bet that combined mass will help overcome the obstacles confronting their respective cornerstone products. If it is approved by shareholders and regulators, the cash-and-stock deal would rank as the largest pharmaceutical-company acquisition ever.

Including net debt, the transaction values Celgene at $88.8 billion, surpassing Pfizer Inc.’s deal for Warner-Lambert.

Under the proposed terms, Celgene shareholders will receive one Bristol-Myers Squibb share and $50 in cash for each Celgene share.

Shares of both companies had been beaten down last year. Bristol-Myers shares declined more than 15 per cent in 2018, while Celgene shares sank 39 per cent.

The deal is New York-based Bristol’s largest under CEO Giovanni Caforio, and comes after the drugmaker has suffered high-profile setbacks in immuno-oncology, its biggest line of business.

— Bloomberg