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The acquisition will strengthen Sanofi's R&D strategy and expands its franchise for rare blood disorders.
On Jan. 29, 2018, Sanofi announced a definitive agreement to acquire the biopharmaceutical company, Ablynx, for approximately EUR 3.9 billion (US$4.8 billion). Under the agreement, Sanofil will offer to acquire all outstanding ordinary shares of Ablynx, including shares represented by American Depositary Shares (ADSs), warrants, and convertible bonds for EUR 45.00 (US$55.99) per share in cash. The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
Ablynx specializes in the discovery and development of nanobodies, and the acquisition boosts Sanofi's R&D in this area. Nanobodies are a new class of proprietary next-generation biologicals. Ablynx has a pipeline of more than 45 nanobody-based proprietary and partnered candidates for a wide range of therapeutic areas, such as hematology, inflammation, immuno-oncology, and respiratory diseases. Eight nanobodies have entered clinical development. Sanofi expects to accelerate development and maximize the commercial potential of Ablynx's ongoing and emerging programs.
The acquisition also strengthens Sanofi's platform in rare blood disorders with Ablynx's lead candidate in development, caplacizumab (anti-von Willebrand factor nanobody), a wholly-owned development program for treating acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP). The product is filed in the European Union and expected to be filed in the United States during the first half of 2018. If approved, caplacizumab would be the first-in-class treatment for aTTP, according to the companies.
The addition of caplacizumab to Sanofi's rare blood disorders platform complements the recently announced agreements to acquire Bioverativ and obtain global rights for fitusiran from Alnylam.
The acquisition also adds to Sanofi's capabilities to address respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. Ablynx's candidate, ALX-0171, is an inhaled anti-RSV nanobody currently in Phase IIb. It complements Sanofi Pasteur's RSV associated programs. There is currently no widely used therapy available for the symptomatic treatment of RSV infections, according to the companies.
"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. 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," said Sanofi's CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, in a company press release.
"Since our founding in 2001, our team has been focused on unlocking the power of our [n]anobody technology for patients. The results of our work are validated by clinical data. 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 [b]oard of [d]irectors feels strongly that this transaction represents compelling value for shareholders and maximizes the potential of our pipeline to the benefit of all stakeholders," added Ablynx's CEO, Edwin Moses, in the release.