Big bang M&As: Sanofi acquires Bioverativ, Ablynx; Celgene acquires Juno Therapeutics
The year started with big bang M&A deals and was the most active January for deal making in over a decade with Sanofi and Celgene dominating the headlines.
French drugmaker Sanofi started off by announcing it had closed a deal to acquire Biogen spinout Bioverativ, a maker of drugs for hemophilia, for almost US$ 11.6 billion.
The second biggest deal in January, announced in the same week, was the acquisition announcement of Juno Therapeutics by Celgene Corporation for approximately US$ 9 billion.
Juno is a pioneer in the development of CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T and TCR (T cell receptor) therapeutics with a broad, novel portfolio evaluating multiple targets and cancer indications. This acquisition will add to Celgene’s lymphoma program, JCAR017. Regulatory approval for JCAR017 in the US is expected in 2019. With this acquisition, Celgene hopes to deliver a new CAR-T with peak sales of US$ 3 billion a year.
Sanofi, on the other hand, bet big on the fast-changing hemophilia market, where Bioverativ’s business is threatened by Roche and developers like BioMarin and Spark/Pfizer, who are looking to disrupt the business with new gene therapies now in late-stage development.
Recently, Roche won a nod for its hemophilia drug Hemlibra.
Sanofi didn’t stop at the Bioverativ buy — it agreed to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx for US$ 4.8 billion (Euro 3.9 billion), beating Denmark’s Novo Nordisk. Ablynx had earlier rejected a US$ 3.2 billion (Euro 2.6 billion) offer from Novo Nordisk.
Ablynx specializes in the research of novel drugs based on nanobodies (which are found in the immune systems of llamas and alpacas). Ablynx partners with several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.