ImClone’s value has risen above the company’s unsolicited offer of $60 per share.

Bristol-Myers Squibb made an unsolicited $4.5 billion all-cash offer to acquire the 83% of ImClone Systems it doesn’t already own. If the takeover goes through, Bristol-Myers Squibb would gain full control over cancer drug Erbitux, which it developed with ImClone.

The $60.00 per share proposal was made to Carl Icahn, chairman of ImClone’s board. It values the company at a 29.19% premium over ImClone’s closing price yesterday.

Today, however, ImClone’s stock surpassed Bristol-Myers Squibb’s bid to open trading at $64.16. Bristol-Myers Squibb says that it will meet with ImClone’s directors to finalize a definitive merger agreement. It is yet to be seen whether the board, notorious because of Icahn’s activist style of investing,  will push for more money.

“Our proposed acquisition of ImClone represents an evolutionary development in our companies’ seven-year long relationship,” states James M. Cornelius, Bristol-Myers Squibb chairman and CEO. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is the natural partner for ImClone as we possess the knowledge base and resources to advance the company’s growth over the long-term not only with respect to Erbitux®, the important cancer therapy we jointly commercialize but also in terms of developing ImClone’s pipeline assets.

“The acquisition is expected to contribute to our financial performance in the 2012-2013 timeframe as well as drive growth beyond 2013,” according to Cornelius.

Erbitux is indicated for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Under the 2001 agreement between the firms, ImClone receives a distribution fee based on a flat rate of 39% of net sales in North America. In July 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to provide additional development funding for certain indications. This agreement will expire in September 2018.

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