Bit­ter­ly op­posed old guard at Take­da wages a last-ditch fight to block 'for­eign blood­'s' $62B Shire buy­out

As Take­da CEO Christophe We­ber pulls the strings for di­rec­tor sup­port in the $62 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Shire, a small group of ex-Take­da em­ploy­ees have put down their foot and vowed to block the pro­posed deal.

Com­pris­ing 130 mem­bers, the group holds 1% of the Japan­ese drug­mak­ers’ shares. To sway the fi­nal de­ci­sion, they need a third of share­hold­ers to al­so vote no. Their cur­rent tar­gets are do­mes­tic re­tail in­vestors and over­seas in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors who own 25 per­cent and 35 per­cent of Take­da shares re­spec­tive­ly, an anony­mous source told Reuters.

The op­po­si­tion once again crys­tal­lizes ten­sion in­side Take­da be­tween its 237-year Japan­ese her­itage and an in­ter­na­tion­al lead­er­ship — what some has de­scribed as “new for­eign blood pit­ted against the old guard in a Japan­ese com­pa­ny.”

We­ber, a French-born ex­ec hand­picked by his pre­de­ces­sor Ya­suchi­ka Hasegawa, has both sym­bol­ized and cham­pi­oned the glob­al­iza­tion of the Japan­ese com­pa­ny, most no­tably by shift­ing the bulk of its R&D group to the Cam­bridge/Boston hub, a long way away from the com­pa­ny’s Tokyo head­quar­ters. His ap­point­ment back in 2014 was op­posed by what ap­pears to be the same group of share­hold­ers, which (ac­cord­ing to Japan­ese out­let Nikkan Yaky­gyo) counts mem­bers of the found­ing fam­i­ly among its ranks.

Yu­jiro Hara, a de­scen­dant of the found­ing fam­i­ly of a phar­ma com­pa­ny ac­quired by Take­da who led the cam­paign against We­ber’s ap­point­ment, com­ment­ed to the Wall Street Jour­nal in 2014 that Take­da “is not a Japan­ese com­pa­ny any­more.” In ref­er­ence to then-CEO Hasegawa’s de­ci­sion to buy Ny­comed, he said “[m]erg­ing and seek­ing scale is not the on­ly way to glob­al­ize.”

The move is more about draw­ing at­ten­tion to “what an ir­ra­tional deal” the Shire buy­out is — giv­en the fi­nan­cial risk and the fact that Roche is en­croach­ing on Shire’s he­mo­phil­ia fran­chise — than ac­tu­al­ly ef­fect­ing a block, Reuters re­ports.

And they are mak­ing their voic­es loud and clear through a se­ries of protests. At last year’s gen­er­al meet­ing, an ul­ti­mate­ly failed at­tempt to block an ad­di­tion­al ad­vi­so­ry ap­point­ment for Hasegawa gar­nered 30.5% of votes.

Take­da is plan­ning to hold the ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­er­al meet­ing in which share­hold­ers will vote on the ac­qui­si­tion in Q4 of this year.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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