Rumours are growing that Bristol-Myers Squibb is in advanced talks with Elan Corp about buying a minority stake in the Irish drugmaker.

Speculation has been stirred by a report in the Wall Street Journal which cited unnamed sources “familiar with the matter” that B-MS is one of two serious contenders looking for a stake in Elan. The US firm is reportedly seeking board representation and the deal could lead to an eventual takeover, says the newspaper.

The WSJ stated that a deal could be reached within a week, but unsurprisingly there was no response from the companies to the rumours. The other suitor has not been named but what is not in doubt is that Elan has been carrying out a strategic review of its options, led by Citigroup, since January.

Analysts are getting a little impatient waiting for the findings of the review which Elan has said could lead to a sale or a merger of the company. At the Dublin-based firm’s last results meeting, chief executive Kelly Martin said that Elan is assessing all available options that balance the short-, intermediate- and long-term opportunities”. However on a conference call afterwards, he said that "given our pipeline and size of potential coverage, the best option for Elan would be to have a partnership with a large pharmaceutical company that would allow us access to existing global infrastructure".

B-MS would fit the bill, but analysts have noted that any deal could be complicated by the deals that Elan has in place with Biogen Idec for multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri (natalizumab) and with Wyeth (which is being acquired by Pfizer) for the investigational Alzheimer's disease drug bapineuzumab.