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Agios Soars on Plan to Sell Cancer Drugs, Return $1.2B to Holders

Drugmaker Agios soared on a plan to sell an oncology portfolio to Servier for up to $2 billion and return $1.2 billion to shareholders.

Shares of Agios Pharmaceuticals  (AGIO) - Get Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report jumped Monday after the drugmaker agreed to sell its oncology portfolio to French pharmaceutical firm Servier for up to $2 billion.

Agios plans to return at least $1.2 billion of the proceeds to shareholders, the company said. Bloomberg quoted Agios Chief Executive Jackie Fouse as saying the return would come as a stock buyback.

Shares of the Cambridge, Mass., company at last check rose 33% to $44.12.

Agios said it would sell its commercial, clinical and research-stage oncology portfolio to Servier, based in Suresne, eight miles northwest of Paris.

Agios has developed novel therapies for patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, Fouse said in a statement. 

For Servier, the deal is a "key step ... as it will significantly strengthen our position in the U.S. and reinforce our R&D capabilities in oncology," Olivier Laureau, president of Servier, said in the statement.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to a vote of Agios holders and to regulatory clearance.

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After the deal closes, Agios will receive $1.8 billion in cash and as much as an additional $200 million in milestone payments for its experimental brain cancer treatment, vorasidenib, and royalties on U.S. net sales of tibsovo, a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

"This transaction will allow the oncology portfolio to grow and thrive with Servier and will provide Agios with the resources required to optimize the development of our promising genetically defined disease therapies," Fouse added.

With this transaction, Servier will also get access to Idhifa, a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia that Agios co-commercializes with Bristol-Myers Squibb  (BMY) - Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report.

"This decision reflects the progress we have made understanding and harnessing the science and promise of [pyruvate kinase] activation and captures the full value of our oncology assets,” said Fouse.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is a condition in which red blood cells break down faster than they should, causing anemia.

Agios is currently developing its lead candidate, mitapivat, to treat blood disorders. 

"The proceeds from the transaction will allow us to focus on rapidly advancing our genetically defined disease portfolio for patients in need, strengthen our capital structure" and fund the return to shareholders, Fouse added.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were financial advisers to Agios on the deal while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz were legal advisers.