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.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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