Laura Shawver (file photo)

Sanofi's hur­ried, $2.5B pur­suit for Syn­thorx drove buy­out price high and left keen ri­val sore­ly dis­ap­point­ed

Sanofi was locked in a bid­ding war right up to the fi­nal mo­ments of clos­ing its $2.5 bil­lion buy­out of Syn­thorx, as it rushed to com­plete a deal — this or an­oth­er — to bol­ster CEO Paul Hud­son’s new R&D vi­sion be­fore wrap­ping the year. By Syn­thorx’s ac­count, what be­gan as rou­tine part­ner­ship talks took a sharp turn in­to two weeks of in­tense ne­go­ti­a­tions in which the San Diego biotech was able to al­most dou­ble the of­fer.

By mov­ing swift­ly and ag­gres­sive­ly, Sanofi fend­ed off three oth­er suit­ors to pock­et a slate of next-gen IL-2 drugs for can­cer and au­toim­mune dis­eases as well as a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy plat­form. The phar­ma gi­ant now takes over a pipeline whose most ad­vanced as­set it still in Phase I/II — be­fit­ting an or­ga­ni­za­tion that now vows to “get in ear­ly enough to change a treat­ment par­a­digm.”

The ini­tial meet­ings with Syn­thorx took place at all the usu­al places: ES­MO 2018, JP Mor­gan and AACR 2019. Soon Sanofi R&D chief John Reed stepped in, but the small­er play­er con­tin­ued to ex­plore op­tions with oth­er com­pa­nies at AS­CO and BIO over the sum­mer.

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