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Biopharma M&A Continues: Agios Sells Oncology Portfolio, NantKwest's Reverse Merger With ImmunityBio, Eyegate Picks Up Panoptes

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M&A momentum in the biopharma space picked up pace, with a few more deals announced in the space this week.

Agios To Divest Oncology Portfolio: In a streamlining bid and to have a singular focus Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: AGIO) announced it's divesting its commercial and clinical-stage oncology portfolio to French biotech Servier for $2 billion.

Of the total proceeds, $1.8 billion will be received as upfront cash payment and $200 million in potential future milestone payment for vorasidenib. Agios is eligible to get 5% royalties on U.S. net sales of acute myeloid leukemia drug Tibsovo for the period from the closing of transaction close till the loss of exclusivity.

Additionally, Agios stands to receive 15% royalties on U.S. net sales of vorasidenib from first commercial sale through loss of exclusivity. The decision, according to the company, is driven by its intent to accelerate and expand its genetically-defined disease portfolio.

"With mitapivat poised to become a new potential treatment option for patients with pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, thalassemia and sickle cell disease and with a rich pipeline based on our pioneering leadership in PK activation and cellular metabolism, Agios' near- and long-term future is filled with significant value-generating catalysts," said Jackie Fouse, CEO of Agios.

The company expects to deploy the proceeds from the sale to rapidly advance its genetically-defined disease portfolio, strengthen its capital structure and return at least $1.2 billion to shareholders post-closing. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

In premarket trading, Agios was surging 35.50% to $45.

Related Link: Sarepta, Amicus Top Biotech Picks Ahead Of Key Binary Events: Analyst

NantKwest to Reverse Merge With ImmunityBio In Stock-for-stock Deal: Nantkwest Inc (NASDAQ: NK), a clinical-stage natural killer, or NK, cell-based therapeutics company, said it will merge with privately-held immunotherapy company ImmunityBio in an all-stock transaction.

The proposed combination will create an immunotherapy and cell therapy company focused on oncology and infectious disease, consisting of 13 assets in clinical trials, with 11 of these in Phase 1 to Phase 3 development.

The transaction is structured as a tax-free, 100% stock-for-stock reverse merger, with each ImmunityBio shareholders receiving a fixed exchange ratio of 0.8190 shares of NantKwest for each share of ImmunityBio.

Following the completion of the transaction, ImmunityBio shareholders will own about 72% of the combined company and NantKwest shareholders the remaining 28%. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Following the closure, the combined company will be called ImmunityBio and the shares will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol IBRX.

In premarket trading Monday, NantKwest shares were jumping 30.70% to $13.41.

Eyegate Acquires Panoptes For Up to $15M: In a third deal of the day, Eyegate Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: EYEG) announced the acquisition of privately-held Panoptes Pharma, which is developing a small molecule for the treatment of severe eye diseases with a high unmet medical need.

The deal is negotiated for $4 million at close, consisting of EyeGate common stock, EyeGate preferred stock and cash. Additionally, $1.5 million in consideration is held back and will be issued in EyeGate preferred stock after a period of 18 months, subject to adjustments for post-closing working capital or indemnification obligations. The transaction also includes two cash or share earn-out provisions, each calling for an additional payment of up to $4.75 million.

Panoptes' pipeline consists of PP-001, a non-steroidal, immuno-modulatory, small molecule inhibitor of dihydroorotate dehydrogenase, or DHODH.

"The acquisition of Panoptes propels the EyeGate pipeline forward to include a de-risked clinical-stage candidate with broad potential across a diverse range of ocular, autoimmune and neurological indications," said Stephen From, CEO of EyeGate.

Eyegate shares were galloping 107.56% to $7.41 in premarket trading Monday.

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