Millennium: Assumptions matter

Back-to-School Issue

Lesson: Recognizing needs and satisfying them through M&A is not a slam dunk, especially when the pre-deal assumptions don’t pan out.

Although it may seem ironic for the company that essentially branded the industrialization model of drug discovery, the management and board at Millennium engaged in a debate over whether the company should grow organically or via M&A in the late 1990s. Those in favor of M&A won that argument, and the company ended up doing four acquisitions between 1997 and 2001, when it acquired Cor in a stock transaction.

“We knew in 1997 that we needed to move downstream from genes and targets into the chemistry and high throughput screening space,” said CEO Mark Levin. That conclusion led to the first deal, in which MLNM paid $91.8 million in stock for ChemGenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., which provided screening and lead optimization technologies (see BioCentury, Feb. 18, 1997).

But the debate was

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