Ligand Pharmaceuticals to acquire protein therapeutics developer Pfenex

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US biopharma company Ligand Pharmaceuticals has signed a deal worth up to $516 million to acquire Pfenex, a development and licensing biotechnology company engaged in the development of protein therapeutics, which are used in various commercial and development-stage biopharma drug candidates.

As per the terms of the deal, Ligand Pharmaceuticals is offering to acquire the California-based biotech company for $12.00 per share in cash along with $2.00 per share or $78 million as a contingent value right (CVR) subject to the meeting of a predefined regulatory milestone by 31 December 2021.

Pfenex has developed the Pfenex Expression Technology, which is said to provide a strong, validated, cost-effective and scalable approach to the production of recombinant proteins. The protein expression technology platform is in particular well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production that cannot be prepared by more conventional systems, said Ligand Pharmaceuticals.

Currently, the Pfenex Expression Technology is out-licensed for various commercial and development-stage programs, apart from being used by Pfenex in developing an early-stage product pipeline and also for nanobody discovery and development capability.

Eef Schimmelpennink – CEO 0f Pfenex, commenting on Ligand Pharmaceuticals acquisition of Pfenex, said: “The Ligand-Pfenex combination is an excellent strategic and cultural fit, presenting a unique opportunity to leverage the complementary strengths of robust platforms and rich pipelines, we expect it to position us even better to deliver on our joint vision to develop therapeutics that provide patients a better future.”

Ligand Pharmaceuticals said that the expertise of Pfenex in the expression of complex proteins is highly complementary to its own antibody and drug enabling technologies.

Commenting on Ligand Pharmaceuticals acquisition of Pfenex, John Higgins – CEO of Ligand Pharmaceuticals, said: “The acquisition holds potential to have a significantly positive scientific and financial impact on our business in the short and long term, similar to how our Captisol and OmniAb acquisitions have played out.

“Pfenex will add an established, proven protein expression platform to Ligand that is highly complementary to our essential, proprietary drug discovery and formulation technologies. We are confident we will be able to quickly and efficiently grow the Pfenex business, along with our core existing technologies.”

The closing of Ligand Pharmaceuticals acquisition of Pfenex is subject to meeting of customary conditions and is likely to occur in Q4 2020.

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