Sanofi snaps up Ablynx after underwhelming Novo bid
- Sanofi SA said Monday it will acquire Belgian drugmaker Ablynx NV for €45 ($56) per share in cash in a deal valued at €3.9 billion ($4.8 billion), trying to capitalize on its recent acquisition of hemophilia specialist Bioverativ Inc.
- Approved by both company boards, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Ablynx stock rose nearly 15% in Monday morning trading to trade above $54, while Sanofi shares fell about 2%.
- The deal will give Sanofi Ablynx' lead asset caplacizumab, which is a treatment for the rare blood disorder acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP) that is expected to be filed for approval in the U.S. during the first half of 2018.
Earlier this year, Novo Nordisk A/S offered €30.50 ($36.50) per share for Ablynx in a deal valued at €2.6 billion ($3.1 billion). Ablynx wasn't so keen on the offer and spurned the Danish company's advances.
Sanofi managed to beat out its long-time competitor, inking its second deal in as many weeks. After announcing its intention to buy the Biogen spinout Bioverativ for $11.6 billion last Monday, Sanofi is hoping to add to its new hemophilia offerings with Ablynx's rare blood disorder pipeline.
The Ablynx buy not only gives Sanofi a ready-to-file rare disease drug, but also a technology platform that could help in further R&D. Ablynx also lists a pipeline of eight clinical-stage assets. Jefferies equity analyst Peter Welford estimates caplacizumab could have peak worldwide sales of $500 million.
Sanofi might not have been interested in Ablynx prior to Novo going public with its own offer. Sanofi management admitted on a Jan. 29 morning call with analysts that it conducted its due diligence very quickly.
"We've been working at high speed, doing very effective diligence, at a very rapid pace," said CEO Olivier Brandicourt, who would not reveal any more about the negotiating process.
"The reason we were able to be so fast is that we've known Ablynx since 2015," he added.
Sanofi and Ablynx have worked together in multiple different capacities. Sanofi's Genzyme unit hooked up with Ablynx in 2015 to investigate drugs for multiple sclerosis.
Sanofi and Ablynx then teamed up again in 2017 to develop nanobody-based therapeutics for inflammatory disorders.
"Before we signed that deal we went through quite a bit of due diligence. We know the company. And actually the partnership was going very well to everybody's account," added Brandicourt.
Sanofi admitted it does not have a lot of details right now concerning the status of some of Ablynx' other partnerships, including an immuno-oncology collaboration with Merck & Co., as well as a the standing of a partnership with AbbVie Inc. related to its IL-6 inhibitor. AbbVie previously pulled out of a deal regarding the rheumatoid arthritis indication, but Sanofi said it doesn't have any further details in relation to other indications for the drug.
On the deal front, Sanofi didn't rule out making any more acquisitions, but noted its "not going to announce a deal every week." However, the company emphasized that it has a good cash position and that the recent deals with Bioverativ and Ablynx won't effect its credit rating.
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