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Fierce Biotech's Quarterly IPO and M&A Roundup: Q1'24

Editor’s note: Last year, we compiled a list of M&A as it happened through our tracker. This year, we’re taking a different approach with a quarterly wrap putting deal activity into context, with M&A and IPOs. Read on for Fierce Biotech’s Quarterly IPO and M&A Roundup.

M&A

The award for the biggest M&A deal of the first quarter of 2024 goes to Gilead Sciences, which acquired CymaBay Therapeutics for $4.43 billion in February, according to a review of data from market intelligence platform S&P Capital IQ.

Following Gilead was Novartis’ $2.77 billion buyout of cancer specialist MorphoSys, then AstraZeneca’s $2.41 billion outlay for Fusion Pharmaceuticals.

All three of these deals spoke to the Big Pharma trend of snapping up small-bite biotechs with a late-stage tilt.

Novartis specifically eyed MorphoSys’ pelabresib, which is being developed with Incyte’s Jakafi (ruxolitinib) in patients with myelofibrosis. Another gem of the portfolio was tulmimetostat, an early-stage dual inhibitor of the EZH2/EZH1 proteins currently in trials for solid tumors and lymphomas.

The deal worked out to 68 euros ($73) per share, according to the companies’ announcement.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, slid into the radiopharmaceutical field thanks to Fusion, which boasts a PSMA-directed radiotherapy called FPI-2265, which is in a phase 2 test for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The two companies had worked together since 2020.

The deal marked a 97% premium to Fusion’s closing price the day before the March 19 announcement. Shareholders are up for another $400 million in milestones.

Gilead’s deal saw it pay out $32.50 per share in cash, a 27% premium to CymaBay’s closing price as of Feb. 9. The transaction brings the primary biliary cholangitis med seladelpar into the Big Pharma’s fold, a med that was submitted to the FDA in December 2023.

Other big names making deals in the quarter were Johnson & Johnson, which bought Ambrx Biopharma for $2 billion; Novo Nordisk, which used some of its Wegovy/Ozempic cash to buy out Cardior Pharmaceuticals for $1.11 billion; and AstraZeneca again, which also picked up Amolyt Pharma for $1.05 billion.

Further down the list, some smaller drug developers got in on the action, but mostly for reverse mergers and smaller pickups of companies or assets in deep trouble. One example is XOMA Corp. swooping in to save Kinnate Biopharma in February for $113 million.

Kinnate began a slow slide almost exactly a year ago when phase 1 data for the pan-RAF inhibitor exarafenib in patients with advanced solid tumors harboring oncogenic BRAF or NRAS alterations disappointed at the American Association for Cancer Research 2023 annual meeting. The company cut 70% of staff in September 2023 and narrowed its pipeline.

Avrobio also found a savior in Tectonic Therapeutic to execute a reverse merger with. The deal helped drum up $130.7 million in new financing from a handful of venture firms, leaving the new company with $165 million in cash and equivalents to move on with.

IPOs

The first quarter saw a hopeful glimmer in the IPO markets with a handful of companies announcing plans to take the plunge.

The largest was CG Oncology, which had a total transaction value of $380 million and net proceeds of $353.4 million, according to S&P Capital IQ. The oncolytic immunotherapy company was the first of the year, announcing Jan. 2 and setting off a rush of biotechs following suit.

Kyverna Therapeutics was one of them, filing the paperwork Jan. 16 to raise the second-highest amount of the quarter at $319 million with net proceeds of $297.7 million.

After that initial rush, the action tailed off with a few more here and there throughout the quarter. The last to head for the public markets in the quarter was Contineum Therapeutics, a J&J-allied company developing a candidate in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and progressive multiple sclerosis. The total transaction value of the IPO was $158.4 million with net proceeds not yet available.

Boundless Bio also wrapped things up at the beginning of March, raising a modest $100 million for its precision oncology work. The company priced the 6.25 million shares at $16 apiece, right in the middle of the $15 to $17 planned range. 

https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/fierce-biotechs-quarterly-ipo-and-ma-roundup-q124

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