With Actelion’s Acquisition Done, What are the Largest European Biotechs?

16/06/2017 - 4 minutes

With Actelion’s acquisition by J&J, there is room for a new company to take over its spot as Europe’s biggest biotech. We had a look at the new top 5.

Early this year, J&J finally sealed the deal to acquire Europe’s biggest biotech Actelion for a massive €30B. Today, all publicly held shares of Actelion have been acquired by J&J’s Swiss subsidiary Janssen, marking the official close of the deal. But while Europe lost its top biotech to big pharma, the agreement also involved the launch of a new company, Idorsia, which is stocked with Actelion’s discovery- and early-stage R&D assets.

The company is led by Actelion’s former CEO Jean-Paul Clozel and has its hands on multiple patents and between 10 and 20 development projects from the former biotech success. As Clozel recently commented at Bio€quity, “I really look forward to creating another Actelion with Idorsia.

While we are waiting for the new biotech, which is backed with  €930M in cash, to become the next Actelion, let’s have a look the current 5 biggest public biotechs in Europe by market cap.


Market Cap: DKK83.27B (€11.17B)

Founded: 1999

City: Copenhagen (Denmark)

Genmab, one of the most successful biotechs in Europe, is developing antibody-based therapies to treat cancer and currently has two on the market, daratumumab and ofatumumab. J&J currently holds the exclusive worldwide license to blockbuster daratumumab, which raked in half a billion in sales last year. The biotech is also developing new antibody candidates based on its DuoBody and HexaBody platforms to generate bispecific and hexameric antibodies, respectively.


Market Cap: €4B

Founded: 1999

City: Mechelen (Belgium)

Based in Belgium, Galapagos develops small molecules with new modes of action. The company is advancing one of the largest pipelines in biotech, cracking a variety of different diseases.

Together with AbbVie, the company is working on the first triple combination therapy for cystic fibrosis. Meanwhile, Gilead stepped in for its JAK inhibitor filgotinib, which the companies are currently pushing through Phase III for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The company recently topped its record €277 IPO on Nasdaq, with a second €364M ($394M) public offering in the US.

Market Cap: €1.99B

Founded: 1998

City: Cambridge (UK)

Abcam was founded by the famous biotech entrepreneur Jonathan Milner and has grown to become one of the leading worldwide providers of antibodies. The biotech started out with the idea of making it easier for research scientists to buy antibodies across the web. Today, the company not only has its own catalogue of antibodies, but also provides related products such as immunoassays, peptides, proteins and protein detection kits.

Last month the biotech completed the €36.4M acquisition of US-based AxioMxa, a company that develops recombinant antibodies using phage display, which complements the Abcam’s portfolio of antibody technologies.



Market Cap: €1.68B

Founded: 1992

City: Munich (Germany)

Starting out with its proprietary antibody technology platform in 1992Morphosys has developed more than 100 antibodies together with partners such as Novartis. Although none of these have so far reached the market, the company currently has an admirable number of 27 antibodies in clinical development.

As Morphosys’ CEO Simon Moroney told us at our recent meetup in Munich, “the first product should come to the market end of this year and we expect that to be the beginning of a flow of products, which will reach the market over the coming years.”


Market Cap: €1.57B

Founded: 2002

City: Paris (France)

DBV Technologies is one of the pioneers in the food allergy field and is developing treatments for peanut, milk and egg allergies. Its lead candidate, Viaskin Peanut, is a treatment to desensitize children from peanut allergies and is currently in Phase III trials.

With its IPO on NASDAQ in 2014, which was followed by a massive $281.5M (€255M) public offering in 2015, the company has enough cash to complete clinical development of its lead asset. Although the company might have to face competition from US-based Aimmune on the peanut allergy market, DBV expects to wrap up clinical development  in 2017.

Actelion is definitely the biggest biotech success story in Europe. It should inspire a new generation of European entrepreneurs, investors and employees. What do you think?

Images via shuterstock.com /  LaMiaFotografia, Rene Holtslag, Stifos, Juli112, Alexandra Lande, Lightspring



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