Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Ablynx spurns Novo Nordisk and cuts €3.9bn deal with Sanofi

Ablynx' caplacizumab vials Ablynx's lead drug caplacizumab
Nellie Chapman | 30 January, 2018, 02:15

In agreeing to be acquired by Sanofi, Ablynx has rejected two offers to be acquired by Novo Nordisk-the latest one a €2.6 billion ($3.2 billion) proposal that would have given Ablynx shareholders €28 ($34.58) upfront and €2.50 ($3.09) in contingent value rights.

For Novo, "it's very hard to come back in once the two company boards have agreed on a deal", Soren Lontoft Hansen, an analyst at Sydbank A/S, said by telephone. "This acquisition builds on a successful existing partnership", Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., said in a statement.

The Belgian group specialises in the research of novel drugs based on so-called nanobodies found in the immune systems of llamas and alpacas, for which it partners with several of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.

The company has around 45 proprietary and partnered programmes with AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, Novartis, Merck & Co, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and others in development in various therapeutic areas including inflammation, haematology, immuno-oncology, oncology and respiratory disease.

By buying the company outright it will now get access to Ablynx's most promising asset, the experimental drug caplacizumab for treating the rare bleeding disorder acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Novo confirmed this morning that it does not intend to make a revised offer. It has already been filed in Europe and expected to be filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first half of this year.

France's Sanofi has agreed to snap up its second biotech firm in a week as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the sector accelerates.

Ablynx chief executive Edwin Moses said that the deal with Sanofi "represents compelling value for shareholders and maximises the potential of our pipeline to the benefit of all stakeholders".

Indeed, Sanofi has made a strong push into the treatment of blood disorders.

Sanofi says the purchase will boost its rare blood disorder portfolio, after announcing earlier this month that it's buying US hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion.

Sanofi is to acquire all outstanding ordinary shares of a biopharmaceutical company that is now focused on the discovery and development of Nanobodies, Ablynx.

The agreed acquisition will add Ablynx's phase III thrombosis antibody-fragment candidate caplacizumab to Sanofi's pipeline, as well as adding a single-domain antibody - or "Nanobody" - technology to its capabilities.

He also said that Sanofi will continue to maintain and support Ablynx' R&D facility in Ghent, which will now operate alongside the French firm's Belgian biologics manufacturing unit in Geel.