Astellas Pharma to acquire US gene therapy company Audentes Therapeutics

Astellas acquisition of Audentes: Japanese pharma company Astellas Pharma has agreed to acquire US gene therapy company Audentes Therapeutics in an all-cash deal worth about $3 billion, as per pharma acquisition news.

Based in California, Audentes Therapeutics calls itself a clinical-stage company focused on developing a portfolio of Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based genetic medicines for the treatment of serious rare neuromuscular diseases. Audentes Therapeutics is currently developing the AT132 gene replacement therapy for X-linked myotubular myopathy, AT845 gene replacement therapy for Pompe Disease, AT702, AT751 and AT753 AAV-antisense candidates for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and AT466 antisense candidates for Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1.

Astellas Pharma says that the acquisition of the US gene therapy company marks a major step in the expansion of its focus area approach. Under this approach, Astellas Pharma said that it is aiming to create innovative medicines for diseases with high unmet medical needs by identifying unique combinations of biology and therapeutic modality/technology based on emerging science.

Apart from the four primary focus areas in which Astellas Pharma is currently prioritizing its investment, the acquisition of Audentes Therapeutics adds a fifth primary focus in genetic regulation, under which gene therapy will be one of the main drivers of its future growth.

Astellas acquisition of Audentes

Astellas acquisition of Audentes. Photo courtesy of Vysotsky/

Commenting on Astellas acquisition of Audentes, Kenji Yasukawa -President and CEO of Astellas Pharma, said: “Audentes has developed a robust pipeline of promising product candidates which are complementary to our existing pipeline, including its lead program AT132 for the treatment of X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy (XLMTM).

“By joining together with Audentes’ talented team, we are establishing a leading position in the field of gene therapy with the goal of addressing the unmet needs of patients living with serious, rare diseases.”

Astellas Pharma is acquiring Audentes Therapeutics for $60.00 per share with the latter to operate as an independent subsidiary upon completion of the deal.

Matthew R. Patterson, Chairman and CEO of Audentes Therapeutics, commenting on Astellas acquisition of Audentes, said: “We are very pleased to enter into this merger agreement with Astellas.

“With its focus on innovative science and a global network of research, development and commercialization resources, we believe that operating as part of the Astellas organization optimally positions us to advance our pipeline programs and serve our patients.”

For Astellas Pharma, Morgan Stanley & Co.’s affiliate Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities is the financial advisor for the deal, while Covington & Burling LLP is the legal counsel.

On the other hand, for Audentes Therapeutics, its financial advisor for the deal is Centerview Partners, while Fenwick & West is the legal counsel.

Closing of Astellas acquisition of Audentes is subject to the US antitrust clearance, shareholders’ approval of the latter, and other customary closing conditions, following which it is expected to occur in Q1 2020.

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