BY Richard Summerfield
French pharmaceutical multinational Sanofi is to acquire Belgian rival Ablynx for $4.8bn, its second multi-billion dollar deal this month.
Sanofi will pay €45 per share in cash for Ablynx, a premium of 21 percent over its closing price on Friday 26 January, and more than double the price before Novo Nordisk – a rival Danish firm which made an unsolicited takeover offer for Ablynx – went public with its initial bid for the company earlier this month. The Sanofi deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, is expected to close by the end of the second quarter 2018. Sanofi’s bid is 48 percent above Novo’s unsuccessful offer.
Novo made a €2.6bn unsolicited offer for Ablynx in January, however that offer was rebuffed and the company reconsidered its options due to “unrealistic premiums”. The pharma space has become an increasingly competitive market of late. With companies looking to bolster their product pipelines and generate growth, acquisitions of smaller competitors has become common practice. Last week Sanofi announced it had agreed to acquire Bioverativ for $11.6bn, its biggest deal for seven years.
In a statement announcing the deal, Sanofi’s chief executive Olivier Brandicourt said: “With Ablynx, we continue to advance the strategic transformation of our Research and Development, expanding our late-stage pipeline and strengthening our platform for growth in rare blood disorders. This acquisition builds on a successful existing partnership. We are also pleased to reaffirm our commitment to Belgium, where we have invested significantly over the years in our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility in Geel. We intend to maintain and support the Ablynx science center in Ghent.”
Ablynx’s chief executive Edwin Moses said: “Since our founding in 2001, our team has been focused on unlocking the power of our Nanobody technology for patients. The results of our work are validated by clinical data. As we look ahead, we believe Sanofi’s global infrastructure, commitment to innovation and commercial capabilities will accelerate our ability to deliver our pipeline. Our board of directors feels strongly that this transaction represents compelling value for shareholders and maximises the potential of our pipeline to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
One of the key drivers of the Sanofi/Ablynx deal was the Belgian company’s experimental drug caplacizumab, which is used to treat the rare bleeding disorder acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.