ArQule develops investigational candidate ARQ 531, an oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, for the treatment of B-cell malignancies
Merck has signed a definitive agreement to acquire biopharmaceutical firm ArQule for an equity value of around $2.7bn.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck, through its subsidiary, will start a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of ArQule for $20 per share in cash.
Once the tender offer is completed, the acquisition subsidiary of Merck will be combined with ArQule, and any remaining ArQule shares will be cancelled and converted into the right to receive the $20 per share price payable in the tender offer.
Merck Research Laboratories president Roger Perlmutter said: “ArQule’s focus on precision medicine has yielded multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors that have novel and important properties.
“This acquisition strengthens Merck’s pipeline with the addition of these strategic assets including, most notably, ARQ 531, a compelling candidate for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.”
Merck will expand into targeted therapies for haematological malignancies
ArQule discovers and develops kinase inhibitor for the treatment of cancers, and its top investigational candidate, ARQ 531, an oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, is currently under a Phase 2 dose expansion study for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.
The company’s pipeline includes (ARQ 092), a potent and selective inhibitor of the AKT serine/threonine kinase; ARQ 751, a next-generation AKT inhibitor for patients with solid tumours with AKT1 and PI3K mutations; and derazantinib, a multi-kinase inhibitor designed to preferentially inhibit the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family.
The acquisition is expected to further diversify Merck’s oncology pipeline, through expansion into targeted therapies for haematological malignancies.
The transaction, which is subject to customary conditions, including the tender of shares, waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions, is anticipated to be closed early in the first quarter of 2020.
For the transaction, BofA Securities served as financial advisor and Covington & Burling served as legal advisor to Merck. Centerview Partners served as exclusive financial advisor and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom served as legal advisor to ArQule.
ArQule CEO Paolo Pucci said: “We are proud that Merck has recognized the contributions that ArQule, together with its scientific collaborators, has made to the field of precision medicine in oncology with ARQ 531 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies and with the rest of our clinical-stage pipeline.
“With this agreement, ArQule’s pipeline will benefit from Merck’s vast capabilities and determined engagement to benefit the patients who we have always strived to serve.”