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UK’s CMA clears Roche’s $4.3bn takeover of Spark

Roche first announced deal in February

CMA

Its a happy day for Roche, as it clears one of the hurdles in the way of its $4.3 acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, after the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) finally approved the deal. 

Roche first announced its intention to acquire Spark in February, but has had to keep pushing back the completion date as the FTC in the US and the CMA in the UK presented concerns over the merger, taking time to probe antitrust issues raised by the deal.

The top concern among shareholders of both companies had been that the financial regulators might be worried about the merged company’s potentially dominant position in haemophilia.

Regulators had been scrutinising the deal because Roche’s antibody drug Hemlibra (emicizumab) has been growing at an impressive rate since its launch last year, and is firmly on course to become a blockbuster this year with sales of $925m in the first nine months.

Adding Spark’s gene therapies SPK-8011 and earlier-stage follow-up SPK-8061 for haemophilia A could give Roche a strong position in the market.

Athough, analysts at Jefferies have previously suggested that with a number of other companies developing gene therapies – including BioMarin, Sangamo and UniQure – that should not be considered overly dominant.

In a statement from the CMA, the antitrust authority said: “While gene therapy treatments are likely to compete with Roche’s Hemlibra in future, the CMA found that Spark is not the only supplier developing a gene therapy treatment and that its products are not currently considered to hold any particular clinical or commercial advantages over those being developed by other suppliers.

“The CMA therefore found that the deal between Roche and Spark would not negatively affect competition because UK health services and patients will still have an adequate choice of alternatives,” it added.

The FTC is still investigating the merger, according to the CMA’s statement, but it is likely that it will similarly clear the deal since the two bodies had “cooperated closely” on their investigations.

If all goes to plan, Roche could deliver on its official line that it still expects to close the deal by the end of the year.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

16th December 2019

From: Regulatory

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