Merck & Co. (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report agreed to buy Acceleron Pharma Inc. (XLRN) - Get Acceleron Pharma Inc Report Thursday in a deal that values the rare drug specialists at around $11.5 billion.
Merck will pay $180 per share for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Acceleron, a 38.5% premium to the group's early September share price. The purchase not only adds Acceleron's pipeline of treatments for rare blood-related diseases, it also beats out interest from rival suitors such as Bristol-Myers Squibb BMY, which owns an 11.5% stake in Acceleron.
“Strategic business development is a top priority for Merck as we look to drive sustainable growth and further bolster and balance our pipeline with breakthrough science,” said Merck CEO Rob Davis, who recently replaced longtime boss Ken Fraizer. “Acceleron’s innovative research has yielded an exciting late-stage candidate that complements and strengthens our growing cardiovascular portfolio and pipeline and holds the potential to build upon Merck’s proud legacy in cardiovascular disease.”
Acceleron shares were marked 0.4% lower in early trading following news of the Merck takeover and changing hands at $176.65 each. Merck shares, meanwhile, rose 01.74% to $76.40 each.
“This agreement with Merck represents the culmination of decades of work by Acceleron researchers successfully leveraging our company’s deep scientific expertise in the biology of the TGF-beta superfamily and driven by an unwavering dedication to delivering life-changing medicines for patients," said Acceleron CEO Habib Dable.
Merck forecast worldwide sales of between $46.4 billion and $47.4 billion, and non-GAAP earnings of between $5.47 and $5.57 per share, following its second quarter earnings update in July, thanks in part to a 23% increase in sales of Keytruda, its blockbuster cancer treatment.
Merck had tapped Davis to replace outgoing CEO Ken Frazier, with the longtime boss transitioning to executive chairman of the company's board at the end of last month.