Novartis bets big on gene therapy with $8.7bn AveXis deal
Swiss drugmaker Novartis is moving further into gene therapy by buying AveXis for $8.7bn (€7bn), adding a rare-disease treatment that could reap billions in sales.
The acquisition reflects a surge of interest in biotech dealmaking as large pharmaceutical companies seek promising new assets to boost their pipelines.
The $218-per-share cash deal announced yesterday represents a 72pc premium to AveXis's 30-day volume-weighted average stock price.
Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan, who took over on February 1, is flush with cash, having just agreed to sell his company's stake in a consumer healthcare joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline for $13bn.
Narasimhan is now counting on AveXis's main drug - AVXS-101, a treatment for deadly spinal muscular atrophy - as well as the Illinois-based company's gene therapy expertise and manufacturing capabilities, to bolster Novartis's neuroscience business, a focus for the Swiss company.
This is Novartis's second notable gene therapy deal this year, after it agreed to pay $105m upfront and up to $65m in milestone payments for rights to Spark's blindness treatment Luxturna outside the United States. "We believe the medicine would have a multi-billion dollar peak sales potential," Narasimhan told reporters. (Reuters)