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Astellas buys Agensys biotech for USD 387m

Astellas will buy US-headquartered biotech Agensys for USD 387m to augment its current antibody R&D programme for cancer drugs

Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas has revealed it will buy US-headquartered biotech Agensys for USD 387m to augment its current antibody R&D programme for cancer drugs.

The news was published on website of Astellas Inc, the company's US subsidiary.

Upon completion, Agensys will become a newly established, wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding. The closing of the transaction is subject to Agensys shareholder and customary regulatory approvals, but should complete by the end of December 2007.

Montgomery & Co is financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster is legal counsel for Astellas in the transaction. J P Morgan Securities is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins is acting as legal counsel to Agensys.

The deal will bring with it Agensys' net cash balance of USD 30m, while the company's shareholders will retain the right to receive up to USD 150m in milestone payments.

Agensys is a private biotech spun out of UCLA by a group of oncologists in 1997 as UroGenesys, joining with the inventor of XenoMouse technology, Dr Jakobovits, who also took up the mantle of CSO. The company became Agensys in 2001 and currently employs around 100 people.

Agensys has an antibody in a phase Ib clinical trial and several candidates in late preclinical stages. Agensys' research currently focuses on urology and a broad range of cancers. It also performs target discovery, antibody product development, manufacturing and clinical trial services.

Astellas said in its statement that the cancer market could double its value in 2005 to reach approximately JPY 3.4trn (USD 32bn) by 2015. It added that treatments derived from antibodies, molecular targeted drugs and nucleic acid agents will expand rapidly and make up nearly half the market.

30th September 2008

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