Bil­lion­aire Bertarel­li's Way­point steers al­ler­gy drug­mak­er Stal­ler­genes Greer pri­vate in $832M buy­out deal

The flur­ry of 2019 M&A ac­tiv­i­ty is show­ing no signs of cool­ing. Al­ler­gy im­munother­a­py mak­er Stal­ler­genes Greer has agreed to be ac­quired by the Way­point/Ares Life Sci­ences ve­hi­cle of Swiss bil­lion­aire and for­mer Serono chief Ernesto Bertarel­li for €730.1 mil­lion (about $832 mil­lion) in a deal de­vised to take the French com­pa­ny pri­vate.

Ernesto Bertarel­li

Way­point has been the biggest share­hold­er of Stal­ler­genes since it was es­tab­lished in 2015, and cur­rent­ly holds a 83.9% stake.

“(I)n light of Stal­ler­genes Greer’s lim­it­ed pub­lic float, Way­point has con­clud­ed that the ben­e­fits of hav­ing shares pub­licly list­ed are lim­it­ed, and the costs of main­tain­ing such list­ing are not jus­ti­fied for share­hold­ers,” the Bertarel­li firm said in a state­ment.

“(D)e-list­ing shares from the reg­u­lat­ed mar­ket of Eu­ronext Paris would al­low Stal­ler­genes Greer’s man­age­ment team to fo­cus on the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of Stal­ler­genes Greer’s busi­ness ob­jec­tives with­out the dis­trac­tion of list­ing oblig­a­tions.”

The delist­ing of Stal­ler­genes Greer — which cur­rent­ly trades on Eu­ronext Paris un­der the tick­er sym­bol $STA­GR — is im­per­a­tive for the com­pa­ny as it con­tin­ues to re­cov­er from the “dif­fi­cult op­er­a­tional chal­lenges of re­cent years,” Way­point added.

On Thurs­day, Stal­ler­genes re­port­ed 2018 net prof­it of €12.8 mil­lion. The pre­ced­ing year, the com­pa­ny had stacked up a net loss of €9.9 mil­lion.

Way­point has of­fered €37 per Stal­ler­genes share, a near­ly 43% pre­mi­um to the lat­ter’s Wednes­day clos­ing price of €25.90. The deal comes months af­ter Stal­ler­genes’ house dust mite im­munother­a­py cleared a piv­otal stage test; the biotech al­ready sells an al­ler­gic rhini­tis ther­a­py called Oralair.

2019 is shap­ing up to be an ex­plo­sive year for bio­phar­ma M&A. A num­ber of deals — big and small — are in the off­ing, in­clud­ing Bris­tol-My­ers’ planned $74 bil­lion takeover of Cel­gene, Lil­ly’s $8 bil­lion buy­out of Loxo On­col­o­gy, J&J’s $3.4 bil­lion deal for Au­ris Health and Roche’s $4.3 bil­lion bet on Spark.

The Bertarel­li name is close­ly as­so­ci­at­ed with Serono, which grew over the course of three gen­er­a­tions of the fam­i­ly. Ernesto in­her­it­ed the Gene­va-based drug man­u­fac­tur­er along­side his sis­ter, Dona, and went on to lead the com­pa­ny in 1996. More than a decade lat­er in 2007, Serono was sold to Ger­many’s Mer­ck KGaA. Bertarel­li’s Way­point Cap­i­tal man­ages a large group of as­set man­age­ment, re­al es­tate and health­care in­vest­ment busi­ness­es that he found­ed and chairs — in­clud­ing life sci­ences fund Gur­net Point Cap­i­tal and drug de­vel­op­er Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. He al­so found­ed the yacht­ing team Al­inghi that twice won the Amer­i­ca’s Cup.

De­vel­op­ment of the Next Gen­er­a­tion NKG2D CAR T-cell Man­u­fac­tur­ing Process

Celyad’s view on developing and delivering a CAR T-cell therapy with multi-tumor specificity combined with cell manufacturing success
Transitioning potential therapeutic assets from academia into the commercial environment is an exercise that is largely underappreciated by stakeholders, except for drug developers themselves. The promise of preclinical or early clinical results drives enthusiasm, but the pragmatic delivery of a therapy outside of small, local testing is most often a major challenge for drug developers especially, including among other things, the manufacturing challenges that surround the production of just-in-time and personalized autologous cell therapy products.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck

#ASH19: Here’s why Mer­ck is pay­ing $2.7B to­day to grab Ar­Qule and its next-gen BTK drug, lin­ing up Eli Lil­ly ri­val­ry

Just a few months after making a splash at the European Hematology Association scientific confab with an early snapshot of positive data for their BTK inhibitor ARQ 531, ArQule has won a $2.7 billion buyout deal from Merck.

Merck is scooping up a next-gen BTK drug — which is making a splash at ASH today — from ArQule in an M&A deal for $20 a share $ARQL. That’s more than twice Friday’s $9.66 close. And Merck R&D chief Roger Perlmutter heralded a deal that nets “multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors.”

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Paul Hudson. Sanofi

New Sanofi CEO Hud­son adds next-gen can­cer drug tech to the R&D quest, buy­ing Syn­thorx for $2.5B

When Paul Hudson lays out his R&D vision for Sanofi tomorrow, he will have a new slate of interleukin therapies and a synthetic biology platform to boast about.

The French pharma giant announced early Monday that it is snagging San Diego biotech Synthorx in a $2.5 billion deal. That marks an affordable bolt-on for Sanofi but a considerable return for Synthorx backers, including Avalon, RA Capital and OrbiMed: At $68 per share, the price represents a 172% premium to Friday’s closing.

Synthorx’s take on alternative IL-2 drugs for both cancer and autoimmune disorders — enabled by a synthetic DNA base pair pioneered by Scripps professor Floyd Romesberg — “fits perfectly” with the kind of innovation that he wants at Sanofi, Hudson said.

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Jake Van Naarden, Josh Bilenker, Nisha Nanda (Credit: Loxo, Aisling Capital)

Josh Bilenker and his Loxo crew are tak­ing the reins on on­col­o­gy R&D at Eli Lil­ly, culling the weak and map­ping a new path

Josh Bilenker, Jake Van Naarden and Nisha Nanda came out of Eli Lilly’s $8 billion Loxo Oncology buyout with a bundle of cash and plenty of choices on what they could do next. Start a new company, go public. Live on the beach in 5-star luxury. Contemplate the stars — in their own observatory.

So what are they doing?

They formed a new executive team that is taking over the management of Eli Lilly’s hundreds-strong oncology R&D group — essentially using Loxo as a base for a bold new experiment in Big Pharma R&D in an attempt to create a true biotech environment with the deep pockets of a top-15 industry player. They’ve recruited David Hyman from Memorial Sloan Kettering to join the team as chief medical officer. And the mandate includes culling out the oncology pipeline, highlighting their star prospects and going after new programs wherever they can find the best prospects.

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Ob­sE­va makes case for best-in-class hor­mone sup­pres­sive ther­a­py in pos­i­tive uter­ine fi­broid study

About a month after the Swiss biotech disclosed a failed late-stage study in its IVF program, ObsEva on Monday unveiled positive pivotal data on its experimental treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding triggered by uterine fibroids.

ObsEva in-licensed the drug, linzagolix, from Japan’s Kissei Pharmaceutical in 2015. Two doses of the drug (100 mg and 200 mg) were tested against a placebo in the 535-patient Phase III study, dubbed PRIMROSE 2, in patients who were both on and off hormonal add-back therapy (ABT).

Samit Hirawat. Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bris­tol-My­ers is mak­ing a bee-line to the FDA with pos­i­tive liso-cel da­ta — but is it too late in the CAR-T game?

Bristol-Myers Squibb came to ASH this past weekend with a variety of messages on the new cancer drugs they had acquired in the big Celgene buyout, including liso-cel, the lead CAR-T program picked up in the $9 billion Juno acquisition. And one of the most important was that they had the pivotal efficacy and safety data needed to snag an approval from the FDA next year, with the BLA on track for a filing this month.

J&J team shows off 'break­through' BC­MA CAR-T da­ta, and that could cause a big headache at blue­bird and Bris­tol-My­ers

Just hours after J&J’s oncology team bragged about scoring a breakthrough therapy designation for their BCMA CAR-T drug, they pulled the wraps off of the multiple myeloma data for JNJ-4528 that impressed the FDA. And it’s easy to see why they may well be on a short path to a landmark approval — which may well be making the rival team at bluebird/Bristol-Myers more than a little nervous.

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J&J's Mathai Mammen at an Endpoints News event in Boston, June 2018 (Photo: Rob Tannenbaum for Endpoints News)

J&J fronts $750M cash to grab a failed can­cer drug that’s been re­pur­posed as a pow­er­ful an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry

J&J has stepped up with one of its blockbuster drug buys, agreeing to pay Austin-based XBiotech $XBIT $750 million in cash and up to $600 million more in milestones for their late stage-ready anti-inflammatory drug bermekimab — which some longtime biotech observers may recognize as a failed cancer therapy with a disaster-prone past.

The drug targets the IL-1a pathway. J&J $JNJ R&D chief Mathai Mammen is cutting a check for a drug that has produced positive mid-stage data in patients suffering from a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa with another mid-stage program underway for atopic dermatitis.

That puts J&J in charge of a drug on the threshold of pivotal — though pricey — R&D work for a broad patient group with other related fields to explore. And it’s a very busy development arena.

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Sangamo CEO Sandy Macrae

Pa­tient #9 has been a con­cern, but Sang­amo and Pfiz­er are bull­ish about win­ning the marathon he­mo­phil­ia A gene ther­a­py race

Patient number 9 has given Sangamo and its partners at Pfizer some heart palpitations in their high profile hemophilia A gene therapy program.

After watching his Factor VIII level rise following treatment like the rest, the crucial efficacy gauge they track saw a sudden and significant plunge. At week 13, the FVIII level had dropped below normal. Then it began to rise again.

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