Roche's $4.8 Billion Acquisition of Spark Pushed Back to April 2020


Roche has once again agreed to extend its deadline to acquire Spark Therapeutics. The Swiss pharma giant says it remains “fully committed” to finalizing the $4.8 billion deal announced in February by the end of the year. This extension follows demands from the Federal Trade Commission made last month.

In a filing this morning with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Roche said the new deadline for the agreement is April 30, 2020. The new agreement extends the deadline from Jan. 31, 2020, Roche said, according to Reuters. The extension provides the regulatory officials “additional time to clear the transaction,” Reuters said. The government has been closely scrutinizing this deal and it has had multiple delays as a result. Shares of Roche and Spark are both down less than 2% this morning following the announcement.

Roche Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan said the deal was taking longer than he hoped but that has not diminished his excitement over the partnership between the two companies. In a note to Spark employees, which was published by the SEC, Schwan said they remain hopeful that the deal will close this year, but he wanted to “ensure that we proactively identify and remove any potential future obstacles to achieving this outcome,” Reuters reported.

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In June, Roche announced that the Federal Trade Commission requested additional information about the deal in order to complete its review of the pending acquisition of Spark. It was yet one more delay in the acquisition. The companies had initially planned for the acquisition, first announced in February, to close in late spring or early summer. The demands made by the FTC were expected to delay the acquisition by several months.

When the deal was announced, Roche agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Spark at $114.50 per share. The acquisition was planned to bring the gene therapy company under the Roche umbrella, including Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec), a gene therapy approved for a rare, genetic form of blindness. In addition to Luxturna, Roche is also interested in Spark’s gene therapy program for hemophilia A. Last year, Spark released mid-stage data that showed a one-time treatment yielded a 97% response rate in reduced bleeding events in patients. Spark’s gene therapy treatment is expected to complement Roche’s hemophilia treatment Hemlibra. A 2018 approval for a second indication makes Hemlibra the only prophylactic treatment for people with hemophilia A with and without factor VIII inhibitors that can be administered subcutaneously and also includes a dosing regimen up to once every four weeks.

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