LONDON, 20 March, 2007 –The Corporate Group in Morrison & Foerster's London office closed a further two Life Sciences M&A transactions last week reflecting the ongoing trend for larger pharmaceutical companies boosting their development activities and global research infrastructure through acquisition. In the last quarter of 2006 the industry witnessed a spate of acquisitions, and recent deals Morrison & Foerster has been involved in suggests that this will continue well into 2007.
The two deals last week involved the leading gene therapy company, Oxford BioMedica, acquiring Oxxon Therapeutics Limited, a privately held biotechnology company, based in Oxford, UK and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan, acquiring the drug discovery and development company Paradigm Therapeutics Limited.
Oxford Biomedica: A team including James Gubbins, Natalie Diep and Mark O’Donnell represented Oxford BioMedica Plc on its £16 million acquisition of Oxxon Therapeutics Limited (“Oxxon”). Oxxon’s lead cancer vaccine has completed a Phase II trial in melanoma, the only solid tumour that cannot be treated with Oxford BioMedica’s TroVax. Oxxon’s technology has broad product applications in cancer and infectious diseases and will create new licensing opportunities. Oxxon has other therapeutic programmes addressing infectious diseases, including hepatitis B and HIV, in addition to its strong intellectual property estate that broadens and complements Oxford BioMedica’s proprietary position in immunotherapy and gene-based medicines.
Paradigm Therapeutics: A large London-based team represented the selling shareholders Avlar BioVentures, Merlin Biosciences, Bio-1 and Lloyds Development Capital on the sale of Paradigm to Takeda. The acquisition builds on Takeda and Paradigm’s 2005 CNS therapeutic area alliance. Paradigm’s technologies and researchers will be integrated into Takeda and will help to accelerate multiple scientific processes such as the validation of drug targets derived from genomic research and the optimization of drug candidates. The Morrison & Foerster team was led by Paul Claydon and James Halstead and included Sophie Waels, Matthew Edwards, Waltter Kulvik and Simon Williams in the London Corporate group, with able support from Julian Thurston, Tara Sherbrooke and James Ryan, from the Technology Transactions Group. Tax support was provided by Trevor James and Singapore issues were handled by Ying Ming Ho in the Singapore office.
Paul Claydon, commented: “These two deals, in addition to the sale of Arrow to AstraZeneca which we completed last month, demonstrate a pharmaceuticalindustry eager to fill pipeline gaps by acquiring smaller biotech companies.” The acquisition of Arrow further strengthens AstraZeneca’s portfolio of anti-infective treatments and augments AstraZeneca’s portfolio with clinical and pre-clinical compounds and programmes. Further illustrating the trend, last November, Genentech made its first acquisition in its 30-year history when it bought Houston-based biotech Tanox for $919 million, one of the largest acquisitions in the sector last year. Morrison & Foerster LLP represented Tanox in its negotiations of a three-way deal with Novartis and Genentech regarding Xolair and other anti-IgE products.