Bayer To Acquire Asklepios BioPharmaceutical in $4-Bn Deal

Bayer has agreed to acquire Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based clinical-stage gene-therapy company, in a deal worth up to $4 billion ($2 billion upfront and up to $2 billion in milestone payments).

AskBio’s development portfolio includes investigational preclinical and clinical-stage gene-therapy candidates for treating neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases, such as Pompe disease, Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, as well as out-licensed clinical candidates for hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The company also has an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene-therapy platform and gene-therapy manufacturing capabilities used for both internal purposes and for providing CDMO services. AskBio’s gene-therapy platform includes a cell-line manufacturing process and an AAV capsid and promoter library.

Under the agreement, Bayer will pay an upfront consideration of $2 billion and potential success-based milestone payments of up to $2 billion. Some 75% of the potential success-based milestone payments are expected to be due during the course of the next five years and the remaining amount late thereafter.

Its move to acquire AskBio’s complements Bayer’s acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, a developer of cell therapies in neurology, cardiology and immunology, in 2019, in a $600-million deal. BlueRock develops engineered cell therapies using a proprietary induced pluripotent stem-cell platform. Following a 2016 joint venture with the investor, Versant Ventures, to establish BlueRock Therapeutics, Bayer acquired the remaining stake in BlueRock Therapeutics for approximately $240 million upfront at closing and agreed to an additional $360 million payable upon achievement of pre-defined development milestones.

Closing of the acquisition of AskBio is contingent on customary closing conditions, including receipt of the required regulatory approvals, and is expected to take place during the fourth quarter of 2020. Upon closing, AskBio will continue to operate as an independent company on an arm’s-length basis and will be part of Bayer’s emerging cell and gene therapy business.

Source: Bayer and Asklepios BioPharmaceutical

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