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May 2, 2014

Gamida Loses "Major Pharma" Buyer Said to Be Novartis

  • The largest shareholder in Gamida Cell said today through its parent company that talks with “a global pharmaceutical company” to buy the Jerusalem-based stem cell drug developer have broken down, halting earlier plans—with two Israeli newspapers reporting that the would-be buyer was Novartis. 

    Publicly traded Elbit Imaging, whose parent is Gamida’s largest-shareholder Elbit Medical Technologies disclosed the aborted deal, adding in a terse statement: “The Company, Elbit Medical and Gamida Cell are evaluating the consequences of the above mentioned matter.”

    According to the newspapers, Novartis was to pay Elbit and other owners of Gamida—a shareholder group that includes Clal Biotechnology Industries and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Other Gamida shareholders include Amgen, Denali Ventures, Auriga Ventures and Israel Healthcare Venture.

    Globes and Haaretz both reported the deal price at $600 million.

    Globes reported that Novartis decided not to approve the deal, citing unnamed “sources.” Novartis has never confirmed its involvement in a possible acquisition of Gamida, or any price under discussion for such a deal.

    According to Globes, Novartis would have paid $200 million to $300 million cash, with the potential for a further $300 million dollars in milestone payments and royalties. That gibes with a disclosure by Clal Biotechnology to the Tel Aviv Securities Exchange in March that the potential buyer—which it also did not name—had offered for Gamida Cell “a significant immediate payment as well as future milestone-based payments (development/regulatory/sales related to the drugs developed by Gamida Cell) amounting up to several hundred million dollars.”

    However, Haaretz reported that Novartis would have paid just $170 million upfront.

    Elbit Medical owns a 30.8% plurality of Gamida shares, followed at about 22% by Clal Biotechnology. Elbit Medical is 86%-owned by Elbit Imaging

    Gamida Cell’s lead stem cell therapy product, StemEx®, was co-developed by the company and Teva. StemEx is an alternative, experimental treatment for bone marrow transplants designed to benefit blood cancer patients who cannot find a matched related bone marrow donor.

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