Shares of biopharma MedImmune (NASDAQ:MEDI) shot up 15% yesterday after the announcement that its board of directors had hired investment bankers to help the company look for possible acquirers. MedImmune made the decision to at least look for potential buyers after some shareholders expressed "dissatisfaction" with the share price (which doesn't make sense to me, considering that shares have been trading near 52-week highs even before the buyer search). The company received "indications of interest" from some pharmaceutical companies.

With MedImmune's over $10 billion market capitalization, there aren't a whole lot of fish in the biotech and pharmaceutical sea that could afford to buy the company. Of course big pharmas like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) or Merck (NYSE:MRK), with $28 billion and $9 billion in cash and investments respectively, could easily gobble up MedImmune. What's in question is, what sort of synergies would MedImmune bring to their operations and what would a big pharma be willing to pay for this already premium priced biotech?

A good place to start looking for possible buyers of a biotech are with its partners. MedImmune has a marketing agreement with Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) for its top product, Synagis, and will receive royalty payments from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) if its HPV vaccine makes it to market. Besides Abbott, which is still digesting its nearly $4 billion buyout of Kos Pharmaceuticals last year, MedImmune doesn't have deep collaborations or alliances with any other major pharmas.

It's worth pointing out that plenty of other drug companies, like ImClone Systems (NASDAQ:IMCL) or Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), have announced or been rumored to be putting themselves up for sale in the past, with nothing coming from these "strategic maneuvers." Whether MedImmune's search for a buyer is just a half-hearted way to boost the value of shares or get dissident shareholders off the board of directors' backs will been seen. But to me, the likelihood that MedImmune will find a suitable buyer at a premium price for shareholders seems remote.                                                       

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler is not looking to be acquired and does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. GlaxoSmithKline is an Income Investor recommendation. Pfizer is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.