This company's BoD and Execs have ALWAYS managed this company to a buyout. They seemed to have buyout in hand in early 2011, post-EU approval. One key shareholder apparently got greedy, and the deal blew up. After that, Warburg, the largest shareholder, bailed - seemingly an indication that a buyout would not be happening anytime soon. A buyer would have to be EXTREMELY confident in a positive PH3 data outcome (ASCEND) to buy ahead of the data. That would mean, a hefty premium to current pricing.....so much so that BoD and Execs could not possibly turn it down with the Ph 3 risk still on the table. Otherwise, the price premium following ASCEND will be substantial, based on historical data. If no deal is struck prior to the ASCEND data, the buyers will be teed up, and it will be an auction. The deal will be done within 3 months of the data release.
Since we have no reason to believe that "Son of Pirfenidone" (I'm going to try to introduce the initialism "SoP") is far along, there's really a super case for selling the company post-ASCEND. But just because it makes sense doesn't mean it will happen. And a fair price would be high enough to give an acquirer pause (say, starting at 4x current price) (OOM $5 bln for a roughly $1.5 bln /yr potential drug)
A lot depends on the sales track. If Esbriet sales just double Y/Y, there'll be a lot of pressure to find a big friend to finance the US intro, but much more than that and the rollout can be financed internally.