As bluebird plans its big split, rare disease head Andrew Obenshain recruits Ironwood vet as CFO
As Nick Leschly counts down his final month as chief bluebird — before taking on the new role of 2seventy CEO — he has unveiled a key hire and a couple of updates.
The planned spinout, which is now set to take place in mid-October, will split the current bluebird into two companies, keeping the rare disease and gene therapy pipeline under the original bluebird moniker while Leschly steers the ship at oncology-focused newco 2seventy. Following “an intense period” of internal prep work, it’s time to share plans with outsiders, he said.
That includes a $75 million private placement by an unnamed healthcare investment fund, which will support “ongoing R&D and commercialization” work at both bluebird and 2seventy. An SEC filing suggests the fund is affiliated with Baker Brothers.
Meanwhile, the bluebird team is fleshing out the executive team that will lead it into the future. Andrew Obenshain, the longtime European chief who’s been tapped to lead the new bluebird, has brought on Gina Consylman as CFO. For now, she is still CFO, severe genetic disease — modeling after Obenshain’s own title of president, severe genetic disease.
“Her prior experience in a similar spin transaction and helping lead a successful commercial organization through periods of change has already made her an invaluable partner as we move through an important execution phase at bluebird,” Obenshain said in a statement, referring to the spinoff of Cyclerion from Ironwood, where Consylman served the same role.
An accountant by training, her previous stints have brought her to Biogen and the technology solutions company Analogic.
At 2seventy, Leschly will be advised by Harvard oncologist and cell therapy specialist Marcela Maus, who’s joining the board.
With a CAR-T therapy approval under its belt for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma in the Bristol Myers Squibb-partnered Abecma, 2seventy still has a lot to prove as a nascent oncology player. Leschly recruited three members of his C-suite to jump with him, although a number of other top execs in the cancer unit left in the wake of the decision to split.
Both companies will have lots to prove, especially to skeptical analysts who doubt their respective pipelines will be “robust enough to sustain the independent entities.”
One thing they won’t be lacking, though, is money. When adding the latest financing, Leschly expects to have around $975 million of cash on hand at the time of separation.