Rumours have been circulating since late last week that Stiefel Laboratories, the family-owned dermatology company, is looking for a buyer.
Johnson & Johnson, which shares the rights to acne and psoriasis treatments with the US-based company, is one of three drugmakers who have made unsolicited bids along with Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline according to The Wall Street Journal.
Non-listed Stiefel has not commented on the rumours and does not make financial statements, but it is thought the family is seeking around $4 billion.
Financial giant Blackstone Group made a $500 million minority investment in Stiefel in 2007, while Stiefel acquired fellow dermatology business Barrier Therapeutics in 2008.
Founded over 160 years ago, Stiefel is still run by the Stiefel family with patriarch and CEO Charles Stiefel – the fifth generation of the family to lead the business. Son Brent (pictured) is vice president and in the summer of 2007 he told Campden FB about the virtues of being a privately held company surrounded by large listed multinationals.
"I think if we were public, people would push us to enter into peripheral markets – women's health, pediatrics – whereas for the time being we stay focused and enjoy staying focused on our niche," he said.