Celltech has accepted a cash offer from UCB, a Belgian pharmaceutical and chemical company, which values the UK biotechnology firm at about £1.53bn.
Celltech has accepted a cash offer from UCB, a Belgian pharmaceutical and chemical company, which values the UK biotechnology firm at about ?1.53bn. Many analysts expressed dismay on hearing of the deal, complaining that it will deprive the UK of its largest pure biotechnology firm. UCB will finance the acquisition through bank loans.
In a move which was bound to deter rival companies from making a bid, UCB also signed a separate licence agreement with Celltech for the worldwide development and marketing of the UK biotechnology firm’s most promising product, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis called CDP870. The compound is a PEGylated antibody fragment and is in advanced Phase III trials for rheumatoid arthritis. Celltech has also developed CDP870 as a treatment for Crohn’s disease but the UCB deal does not cover this. UCB will be responsible for CDP870’s future clinical trials and for commercialising the compound as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Celltech and UCB have both stressed that the success of the deal is not dependent on the merger going ahead.
Goran Ando, Celltech’s CEO, said that UCB is committed to making Celltech’s UK based research capabilities a cornerstone of the combined group’s growth strategy. ’Together, we will be one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies,’ he said. The combined group will be strong in the therapeutic areas of central nervous system, inflammation and oncology.
Following the deal, UCB was rumoured to be looking to dispose its chemical arm, which makes industrial coatings and adhesives.