Ligand to Acquire Pfenex Inc.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: LGND) and Pfenex Inc. (NYSE American: PFNX) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement for Ligand to acquire all outstanding shares of Pfenex for $12.00 per share in cash or $438 million in equity value on a fully diluted basis. In addition, Ligand will pay $2.00 per share or $78 million as a Contingent Value Right (CVR) in the event a predefined regulatory milestone is achieved by December 31, 2021, for a total transaction value of up to $516 million. The closing of this transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to occur in the fourth quarter.
Pfenex is a development and licensing biotechnology company focused on leveraging its proprietary Pfenex Expression Technology, which offers a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable approach to recombinant protein production, and is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production that cannot be made by more traditional systems. The technology is currently out-licensed for numerous commercial and development-stage programs, as well as used by Pfenex in developing an early stage product pipeline and nanobody discovery and development capability. The versatile platform has demonstrated consistent success in the production of enzymes, peptides, antibody derivatives and engineered non-natural proteins. Partners seek the Pfenex technology as it can contribute significant value to biopharmaceutical development programs by reducing development timelines and costs for manufacturing human therapeutics and vaccines.
Pfenex’s expertise in the expression of complex proteins is highly complementary to Ligand’s industry-leading antibody and drug enabling technologies, building a comprehensive discovery and early stage platform.
The acquisition of Pfenex is expected to contribute a number of strategic benefits to Ligand:
- Access to a proprietary, protein expression technology that is utilized in various commercial and development-stage biopharmaceutical programs.
- Versatile operating business that is focused on licensing and generating royalty revenue from partners.
- Profitable, cash-flow positive business that is projected to be accretive to Ligand’s adjusted diluted EPS beginning in 2021.
- Numerous major collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies for treatments and vaccines, including Merck, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Serum Institute of India and Alvogen.
- Outlook for numerous additional licenses to be potentially secured over the next few years by Ligand leveraging the Pfenex technology.
- Validated discovery platform technology driving a deep pipeline of next generation product candidates for future internal and external development.
- State-of-the-art process development operation located in San Diego with scalable equipment and engineering capabilities designed to serve the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
“Pfenex is an ideal strategic, business and cultural fit with Ligand. 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,” said John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Ligand. “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. It has been a very positive experience working with the Pfenex executive leadership and senior scientists while we put this deal together. We look forward to welcoming the talented Pfenex team to Ligand.”