Roche enters into definitive merger agreement to acquire Spark Therapeutics

  • Roche to acquire Spark Therapeutics for US$ 114.50 per share
  • Spark Therapeutics is a leader in discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies with one commercial asset and four programmes currently in clinical trials
  • Transaction expected to close in Q2, 2019

Roche and Spark Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Roche to fully acquire Spark Therapeutics at a price of US$ 114.50 per share in an all-cash transaction. This corresponds to a total transaction value of approximately US$ 4.3 billion on a fully diluted basis. This price represents a premium of approximately 122% to Spark Therapeutics’ closing price on 22 February 2019 and a premium of approximately 19% to Spark Therapeutics’ 52 week high share price on 9 July 2018. The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of Spark Therapeutics and Roche.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Roche will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Spark Therapeutics common stock, and Spark Therapeutics will file a recommendation statement containing the unanimous recommendation of the Spark Therapeutics board that Spark Therapeutics’ shareholders tender their shares to Roche.

Spark Therapeutics, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies for genetic diseases, including blindness, haemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Spark Therapeutics’ lead clinical asset is SPK-8011, a novel gene therapy for the treatment of haemophilia A, which is expected to start Phase 3 in 2019. Spark Therapeutics also has SPK-8016 in a phase 1/2 trial aimed at addressing the haemophilia A inhibitor population. Additionally, Spark Therapeutics was the first company to receive FDA approval for a gene therapy for a genetic disease in 2017. LUXTURNA (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), a one-time gene therapy product indicated for the treatment of patients with confirmed biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy is currently marketed in the US by Spark Therapeutics. The European Commission granted marketing authorisation for LUXTURNA in 2018.

Spark Therapeutics’ additional clinical assets include: SPK-9001, an investigational gene therapy for the potential treatment of haemophilia B in Phase 3 and SPK-7001 for choroideremia in Phase 1/2. The company is also developing SPK-3006 for Pompe disease and SPK-1001 for CLN2 disease (a form of Batten disease) which are expected to be ready for clinical development in 2019, as well as additional preclinical programmes for Huntington's disease and Stargardt disease.

Commenting on the transaction, Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, said, “Spark Therapeutics’ proven expertise in the entire gene therapy value chain may offer important new opportunities for the treatment of serious diseases. In particular, Spark Therapeutics’ haemophilia A programme could become a new therapeutic option for people living with this disease. We are also excited to continue the investments in Spark Therapeutics’ broad product portfolio and commitment to Philadelphia as a center of excellence.” Spark Therapeutics’ will continue its operations in Philadelphia as an independent company within the Roche Group.

“As the only biotechnology company that has successfully commercialised a gene therapy for a genetic disease in the US, we have built unmatched competencies in the discovery, development and delivery of genetic medicines. But the needs of patients and families living with genetic diseases are immediate and their needs vast,” said Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, CEO of Spark Therapeutics. “With its worldwide reach and extensive resources, Roche will help us accelerate the development of more gene therapies for more patients for more diseases and further expedite our vision of a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.”

Terms of the Agreement

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Roche will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Spark Therapeutics’ common stock at a price of US$ 114.50 per share in cash. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to a majority of Spark Therapeutics’ outstanding shares being tendered in the tender offer. In addition, the transaction is subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other customary conditions.

Following completion of the tender offer, Roche will acquire all remaining shares at the same price of US$ 114.50 per share through a second step merger. The closing of the transaction is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2019.

Citi is acting as financial advisor to Roche and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is acting as legal counsel to Roche. Centerview Partners is acting as financial advisor to Spark Therapeutics and Goodwin Procter LLP is acting as legal counsel to Spark Therapeutics. Cowen also acted as a financial advisor in this transaction to Spark Therapeutics.

About Spark Therapeutics

Spark Therapeutics is a fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies. The company challenges the inevitability of genetic diseases, including blindness, haemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Founded in March 2013 as a result of the technology and know-how accumulated over two decades at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Spark Therapeutics’ investigational therapies have the potential to provide long-lasting effects, dramatically and positively changing the lives of patients with conditions where no, or only palliative, therapies exist. Greater understanding of the human genome and genetic abnormalities have allowed Spark Therapeutics’ scientists to tailor investigational therapies to patients suffering from very specific genetic diseases. This approach holds great promise in developing effective treatments to a host of inherited diseases.

Spark Therapeutics is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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