Neil Kumar Credit: Endpoints

Bridge­Bio CEO Neil Ku­mar en­gi­neers a deal to reel back Ei­dos shares. Or is he re­al­ly hunt­ing a buy­out?

A year af­ter Bridge­Bio took its biotech sub­sidiary Ei­dos pub­lic at $17 a share $EI­DX, the moth­er com­pa­ny wants it all back. 

Bri­an Stephen­son

Bridge­Bio CFO Bri­an Stephen­son alert­ed in­vestors in an SEC fil­ing late last week that the San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny pro­posed to buy out the in­vestors who snapped up a third of the eq­ui­ty, shoot­ing for a stock-for-stock deal.

Bridge­Bio, an um­brel­la drug de­vel­op­ment group co-found­ed by CEO Neil Ku­mar which owns 66.6% of Ei­dos, went pub­lic in a record-set­ting IPO a few weeks ago, pric­ing at $17 a share — but now trad­ing north of $26, even af­ter a 10% trim on Fri­day as the news of the fil­ing be­gan to per­co­late.

In a re­lease out this morn­ing, Bridge­Bio is propos­ing a swap: 1.3 shares of Bridge­Bio for every share of Ei­dos it doesn’t own. 

That has SVB Leerink’s Mani Foroohar won­der­ing if the re­al goal here isn’t spurring a bet­ter buy­out of­fer, with a big up­side.

While these steps are in line with our ex­pec­ta­tions and the Board car­ry­ing out its fidu­cia­ry re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, we do see a sce­nario in which a po­ten­tial com­pet­i­tive “over­bid” for the com­pa­ny could yield up­side be­yond the ~21% im­plied un­af­fect­ed pre­mi­um from BBIO’s ini­tial of­fer. As the own­er of a ma­jor­i­ty of EI­DX shares, BBIO would ben­e­fit fi­nan­cial­ly in this sce­nario, though BBIO (in an An­nex to to­day’s EI­DX dis­clo­sure) pro­claims no in­ter­est in sell­ing con­trol of EI­DX to an­oth­er en­ti­ty.

For its part, Bridge­Bio is sell­ing the prospect of bet­ter di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. Af­ter all, not­ed Stephen­son, Ei­dos in­vestors shouldn’t be wait­ing for a buy­out.

As stock­hold­ers of Bridge­Bio, the Com­pa­ny’s stock­hold­ers would have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ben­e­fit from and par­tic­i­pate in con­tin­ued up­side in Ei­dos while di­ver­si­fy­ing their in­vest­ment through ex­po­sure to the broad port­fo­lio of as­sets be­ing de­vel­oped by Bridge­Bio. This may be im­por­tant to cur­rent in­vestors, es­pe­cial­ly giv­en the dearth of M&A in the car­dio­vas­cu­lar area there­by lim­it­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for liq­uid­i­ty and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

Bridge­Bio now has a big uni­corn val­u­a­tion of $3.24 bil­lion, com­pared to $1.3 bil­lion for Ei­dos, which closed Fri­day at $35.17.

A spe­cial com­mit­tee with RA Cap­i­tal’s Ra­jeev Shah and William Lis will be re­spon­si­ble for han­dling the buy­out. Shah, a high-pro­file fig­ure in the biotech fi­nance scene, led the $64 mil­lion round for Ei­dos in the spring of 2018, work­ing di­rect­ly with Ku­mar. Shah gam­bled on a mid-stage drug for TTR amy­loi­do­sis, look­ing to take the field against a well-ad­vanced slate of ri­vals from Pfiz­er, Al­ny­lam and Io­n­is.

Lis is the ex-CEO at Por­to­la.

Head­shot: Bri­an Stephen­son, Linkedin

Mer­ck ex­pands scope of Zymeworks an­ti­body al­liance, adding close to $900M in mile­stones

Nearly a decade after first partnering with Merck, Vancouver-based biotech Zymeworks has expanded its collaboration with the pharma giant once again.

Zymeworks re-upped with Merck in a new licensing agreement, granting the New Jersey pharma giant the right to develop up to 3 additional multispecific antibody candidates. In exchange, the biotech will receive an undisclosed upfront payment — Merck is always loath to discuss cash terms — and nearly $900 million in combined regulatory ($411 million) and commercial ($480 million) milestones.

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Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

OWS shifts spot­light to drugs to fight Covid-19, hand­ing Re­gen­eron $450M to be­gin large scale man­u­fac­tur­ing in the US

The US government is on a spending spree. And after committing billions to vaccines defense operations are now doling out more of the big bucks through Operation Warp Speed to back a rapid flip of a drug into the market to stop Covid-19 from ravaging patients — possibly inside of 2 months.

The beneficiary this morning is Regeneron, the big biotech engaged in a frenzied race to develop an antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2 that just started a late-stage program to prove its worth in fighting the virus. BARDA and the Department of Defense are awarding Regeneron a $450 million contract to cover bulk delivery of the cocktail starting as early as late summer, with money added for fill/finish and storage activities.

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The home run count: The $100M+ mega-round boom in biotech in­spired a $6.7B feed­ing fren­zy — so far this year

Over the last 6 months there’s been a blizzard of money piling up drifts of the green stuff through the biotech landscape. And the forecast calls for more cash windfalls ahead.

Even as a global pandemic has killed more than half a million people, blighted economies and divided nations over the proper response, it’s also helped ignite an unprecedented burst of big-time investing. And not just in Covid-19 deals, as we’ve looked at before.

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Nello Mainolfi (Kymera via YouTube)

Out to re­vive R&D, a resur­gent Sanofi pays $150M cash to part­ner up with a pi­o­neer­ing pro­tein degra­da­tion play­er

Frank Nestle was appointed Sanofi’s global head of immunology and inflammation research therapeutic area just days before dupilumab, the blockbuster-to-be IL-4 antibody, would be accepted for priority review. After four years of consolidating immunology expertise from multiple corners of the Sanofi family and recruiting new talents to build the discovery engine, he’s set eyes on a Phase I-ready program that he believes can grow into a Dupixent-sized franchise.

For­bion spot­lights late-stage plays, carves out new €250M growth fund

Having staked its rep on picking out a mix of biotech investment opportunities across the “build,” “enable,” “growth” continuum, Forbion is launching its first fund dedicated to late-stage opportunities.

Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund’s first close brought in €185 million ($208 million). Existing investors Pantheon, KfW Capital and the European Investment Fund came on board, joined by new backers Eli Lilly, Horizon Therapeutics, Belgian Growth Fund and New Waves Investments.

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen shares spike as ex­ecs com­plete a de­layed pitch for their con­tro­ver­sial Alzheimer's drug — the next move be­longs to the FDA

Biogen is stepping out onto the high wire today, reporting that the team working on the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab has now completed their submission to the FDA. And they want the agency to bless it with a priority review that would cut the agency’s decision-making time to a mere 6 months.

The news drove a 10% spike in Biogen’s stock $BIIB ahead of the bell.

Part of that spike can be attributed to a relief rally. Biogen execs rattled backers and a host of analysts earlier in the year when they unexpectedly delayed their filing to the third quarter. That delay provoked all manner of speculation after CEO Michel Vounatsos and R&D chief Al Sandrock failed to persuade influential observers that the pandemic and other factors had slowed the timeline for filing. Actually making the pitch at least satisfies skeptics that the FDA was not likely pushing back as Biogen was pushing in. From the start, Biogen execs claimed that they were doing everything in cooperation with the FDA, saying that regulators had signaled their interest in reviewing the submission.

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Atul Deshpande, Harbour BioMed chief strategy officer & head, US operations (Harbour BioMed)

An­oth­er biotech IPO set-up? Multi­na­tion­al biotech leaps from round to round, scoop­ing up cash at a blis­ter­ing pace

A short four months after announcing a $75 million haul in Series B+ fundraising, the multinational biotech Harbour BioMed pulled in another round of investments and eclipsed the nine-digit mark in the process.

Harbour completed its Series C financing, the company announced Thursday morning, raising $102.8 million and bringing its total investment sum to over $300 million since its founding in late 2016. The biotech plans to use the money to transition early-stage candidates from the discovery phase, fund candidates already in the clinic, and prep late-stage candidates for commercialization.

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Covid-19 roundup: CDC de­bat­ing who should get first avail­able vac­cines; EU in Gilead talks af­ter US gob­bled first remde­sivir dos­es

The federal government has now spent billions of dollars accelerating the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, and yet they’ve remained hush-hush on who, precisely, would actually get inoculated once the first doses are approved and available. Internally, though, they have been debating it.

The CDC and an advisory committee of outside health experts have been working since April to devise a ranking system that would determine who receives a vaccine and when, The New York Times reported. The question of who is first in line for inoculation is important because no matter how many doses developers can make or how quickly they can make them, doses will still come out in batches; 300 million inoculations will not appear overnight.

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Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A new study points to $6.5B in pub­lic sup­port build­ing the sci­en­tif­ic foun­da­tion of Gilead­'s remde­sivir. Should that be re­flect­ed in the price?

By drug R&D standards, Gilead’s move to repurpose remdesivir for Covid-19 and grab an emergency use authorization was a remarkably easy, low-cost layup that required modest efficacy and a clean safety profile from just a small group of patients.

The drug OK also arrived after Gilead had paid much of the freight on getting it positioned to move fast.

In a study by Fred Ledley, director of the Center for Integration of Science and Industry at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, researchers concluded that the NIH had invested only $46.5 million in the research devoted to the drug ahead of the pandemic, a small sum compared to the more than $1 billion Gilead expected to spend getting it out this year, all on top of what it had already cost in R&D expenses.

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