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Merck to strengthen oncology portfolio with VelosBio
Posted on Thursday, 05 November 2020 15:35
Merck, through a subsidiary, has signed on the dotted line to acquire US-based biopharmaceutical company VelosBio for USD 2.75 billion in cash.

Subject to customary closing conditions, as well as approvals under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, the deal is slated to complete by the end of 2020.

Headquartered in California, VelosBio develops novel, first-in-class cancer therapies for receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1), a cell-surface protein found on hematologic and solid tumours.

Its pipeline includes VLS-101, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), which is being used to target ROR1 and is undergoing phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials to evaluate the treatment of patients with malignant tumours.

Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories, said: “At Merck, we continue to bolster our growing oncology pipeline with strategic acquisitions that both complement our current portfolio and strengthen our long-term growth potential.

“Pioneering work by VelosBio scientists has yielded VLS-101, which in early studies has provided notable evidence of activity in heavily pre-treated patients with refractory haematological malignancies, including mantel cell lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.”

Through the deal, Merck will also gain access to the target’s preclinical pipeline of next generation ADCs and biospecific antibodies targeting ROR1 that could potentially complement VLS-101 by offering alternative methods of tumour cell killing.

Dave Johnson, founder of VelosBio, noted: “As part of Merck’s oncology pipeline, our lead product candidate, VLS-101, is now well positioned to achieve its maximum potential to benefit appropriate cancer patients in need.”

For the six months ended 30th June 2020, the buyer posted revenue of USD 22.93 million, up 1.6 per cent from USD 22.58 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.

Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, shows there have been 4,828 deals targeting companies which provide research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences industries announced globally in 2020 to date.

The largest of these was worth USD 13.10 billion and involved Bristol-Myers Squibb agreeing to acquire US-based MyoKardia.

© Zephus Ltd