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Merck & Co. Acquires Cancer Drug Specialist ArQule For $2.7 Billion

ArQule shares surge after the cancer drug specialists agreed to a $2.7 billion takeover bid from Merck & Co.

Merck & Co. said Monday that it will acquire oncology specialist ArQule in a $2.7 billion deal that marks the latest in a string of takeovers in the cancer drug sector.

Merck said it will pay $20 a share for Woburn, Massachusetts-based ArQule, a premium of more than $10 to the stock's closing price of $9.66 Friday on the Nasdaq. The group, which focuses on research and development of targeted therapeutics to treat cancers and rare diseases, will be merged into the broader Merck & Co., the companies 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,” said ArQuel CEO Paolo Pucci. “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.”  

ArQule shares were indicated some 103% higher in early trading following news of the Merck takeover to change hands at $19.64 each. Merck shares, meanwhile, were marked 0.57% lower at $88.34 each.

Merck's move to buy ArQule follows a $2.5 billion takeover of San Diego, California-based Synthorx by France's Sanofi SA earlier Monday. 

Sanofi said it will pay $68 a share for Synthorx, which focuses on cancer and autoimmune disorder treatments, in a deal that will bolster its immuno-oncology pipeline.