By Paritosh Bansal and Soyoung Kim
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five pharmaceutical giants including Novartis AG and Sanofi SA remain in the running for Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc, as the auction of the diabetes drugmaker with a market value of $4.5 billion enters the last leg, according to people familiar with the matter.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, AstraZeneca Plc and Merck & Co Inc also remain involved, the people said. Final bids are expected starting the end of this week, they said.
All of the potential acquirers declined to comment. Amylin was not immediately available for comment.
Shares of Amylin rose 2 percent to $28.01 in early afternoon trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday.
The bidding for Amylin comes as big pharmaceutical companies that are flush with cash and have easy access to debt make aggressive bids for promising biotech firms and other targets. These biotech companies offer big pharma the chance to replenish their pipelines as some blockbuster drugs come off patent.
U.S. biotech company Human Genome Sciences Inc is fighting off a $2.6 billion hostile takeover offer from GlaxoSmithKline Plc. Human Genome is also running an auction and has set a July 16 deadline for bids.
Amylin, which makes diabetes drugs Byetta and Bydureon, put itself up for sale after spurning a $3.5 billion takeover bid from Bristol-Myers earlier this year. The company also came under pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn.
Amylin started reaching out to potential buyers in April after hiring Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs Group Inc as its financial advisers and Skadden Arps as its legal adviser, sources told Reuters previously.
Amylin received first-round bids from Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca, Merck and Sanofi among other companies in late May, sources have said. Two of the sources said at that time that all the parties made initial bids of at least $25 a share, valuing Amylin at more than $4 billion.
(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal and Soyoung Kim in New York, and Ben Hirschler in London; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)