Roche sets new deadline for Spark acquisition as divestiture speculation brews
To nobody’s surprise at this point, Roche and Spark have extended the offering period of their $4.3 billion buyout deal for another month.
Just days ago the UK Competition and Markets Authority officially sought public comment on the Swiss pharma giant’s competitive position if the deal goes through. As FTC regulators simultaneously conduct their own review, analysts are increasingly convinced that Roche will be forced to abandon a hemophilia gene therapy being developed by Spark in order to consummate the acquisition.
The apprehension represents a stark contrast to the prevailing sentiment following Roche’s announcement in March, which was that Roche’s Hemlibra — an antibody — works too differently from Spark’s once-and-done genetic treatments to cause problems.
From the start, Roche has declined to comment on what underlies the anti-competitive concerns, and there was no word about that in today’s statement.
Spark shareholders have collectively tendered around 21.4% of the stock, around the same level as in previous delays — but they will have plenty of time to make up their mind on a deal that Roche CEO Severin Schwan has hinted could drag into spring of 2020.