Sanofi to acquire Belgian biotech company Ablynx for €3.9bn


Pharma acquisition news : French pharma company Sanofi has clinched a deal to acquire Belgian biotech company Ablynx for a sum of around €3.9 billion in an all-cash deal.

Headquartered in Ghent, Ablynx, which was formed in 2001 as a spin-off of Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB) and Free University of Brussels (VUB), is into discovery and development of nanobodies.

Sanofi’s offer is better than an earlier €2.6 billion takeover proposal from Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk which was rejected by Ablynx on the grounds that it had fundamentally undervalued its business.

Ablynx shareholders will now get €45 for each of the shares they hold in the Belgian biotech company, which is higher than the €30.50 per share offered by Novo Nordisk, earlier this month.

Sanofi says that the acquisition of Ablynx will strengthen its research and development strategy and expand its late-stage pipeline.

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Most importantly, the Sanofi acquisition of Ablynx is expected to bolster the former’s platform in rare blood disorders.

Ablynx building in Ghent, Belgium

Belgian biotech company Ablynx building in Ghent, Belgium. Photo courtesy of Ablynx.

Through the acquisition, Sanofi will get Caplacizumab (anti-vWF Nanobody), Ablynx’s investigational drug for the treatment of a rare bleeding disorder known as acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP).

Caplacizumab, which is in late stage development, has been filed by Ablynx in the European Union, with the same to be done in the United States during the first half of the year.

Commenting on Sanofi acquisition of Ablynx, Olivier Brandicourt – CEO of Sanofi, said: “With Ablynx, we continue to advance the strategic transformation of our Research and Development, expanding our late-stage pipeline and strengthening our platform for growth in rare blood disorders.

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“This acquisition builds on a successful existing partnership. We are also pleased to reaffirm our commitment to Belgium, where we have invested significantly over the years in our state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility in Geel. We intend to maintain and support the Ablynx science center in Ghent.”

Another key asset of Ablynx is ALX-0171, an inhaled anti-RSV Nanobody, which is being developed for the symptomatic treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections.

ALX-0171 is in phase 2b development as of now and is expected to complement the RSV related candidates of Sanofi Pasteur.

Edwin Moses – CEO of Ablynx, commenting on Sanofi acquisition of Ablynx, said: “Since our founding in 2001, our team has been focused on unlocking the power of our Nanobody technology for patients. The results of our work are validated by clinical data.

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“As we look ahead, we believe Sanofi’s global infrastructure, commitment to innovation and commercial capabilities will accelerate our ability to deliver our pipeline.

“Our Board of Directors feels strongly that this transaction represents compelling value for shareholders and maximizes the potential of our pipeline to the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Ablynx boasts of a nanobody pipeline of more than 45 proprietary and partnered candidates for a variety of therapeutic areas such as hematology, immuno-oncology, inflammation and respiratory diseases. Eight of the nanobodies in Ablynx’s pipeline have moved on to the clinical development stage.

Sanofi acquisition of Ablynx is likely to be over by the end of Q2 2018 should it satisfy the transaction’s closing conditions.

For Sanofi, the proposal to acquire Ablynx, comes only days after it had struck a $11.6 billion deal to acquire US biotech company Bioverativ. (Check out the report on the Sanofi acquisition of Bioverativ here).

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