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Ablynx spurns Novo Nordisk and cuts €3.9bn deal with Sanofi

The offer comes at a 110% premium on the Belgian biopharma’s share price


Sanofi has reached an agreement to take over Ablynx for €45 per share in cash, after the biotech rejected substantially lower bids from Novo Nordisk.

The boards of Sanofi and Ablynx have both backed the offer, which is a 110% premium on Ablynx’ share price in early January before Novo went public with its €26.75 and €30.50 offers, which were both rejected for undervaluing the business.

This is the second major acquisition by Sanofi in as many weeks, coming after the French pharma major agreed an $11.6bn acquisition of Bioverativ. Both deals boost its positions in rare diseases and haematology, with Ablynx’ lead product caplacizumab acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP) slotting neatly into Sanofi’s pipeline along with the Bioverativ haemophilia therapies and other orphan drug assets.

According to analysts at Jefferies, the complementary focus of Sanofi and Ablynx and the fact that the offer price is close to its valuation of €49 per share for the biotech means that they “do not expect counterbids from rivals”. Novo confirmed this morning that it does not intend to make a revised offer.

Sanofi chief executive Olivier Brandicourt said the decision to acquire Ablynx came after a successful existing partnership with the Belgian company, adding that the deal will help the group to “continue to advance the transformation of our R&D pipeline and strengthening our platform for growth in rare blood disorders”.

He also said that Sanofi will continue to maintain and support Ablynx’ R&D facility in Ghent, which will now operate alongside the French firm’s Belgian biologics manufacturing unit in Geel.

Jefferies says that caplacizumab could be approved in Europe in the third quarter of this year, with a US filing shortly after and an expected US launch in the first half of 2019. The drug is a potential game-changer in aTTP, reducing the need for expensive and risky plasma exchange treatment, reducing exacerbations and preventing organ damage, which could make it a $500m product at peak.

Following after, Ablynx is expecting phase IIb clinical trial results for its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) therapy ALX-0171 before the end of the year. Sanofi is already active in this category after licensing rights to AstraZeneca’s phase II candidate MEDI8897 last year, with both projects aimed at providing treatment for already-established RSV infections. AZ sells a prophylactic RSV antibody - Synagis (palivizumab) - which brought in $677m in sales in 2016 despite being reserved for use in high-risk infants.

Ablynx also has vobarilizumab for systemic lupus erythematosus in phase II, with results due in the first half of the year that will trigger an option decision by AbbVie.

Article by
Phil Taylor

29th January 2018

From: Sales



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