Roche in $1 billion-plus Foundation Medicine deal to boost cancer efforts

Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:40am EST
 
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ZURICH/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Roche Holding will acquire a majority stake in molecular and genomic analysis business Foundation Medicine, it said on Monday, signaling its determination to expand in cancer immunotherapy by paying a hefty mark-up on the U.S. company's current price.

The deal will help the world's largest maker of cancer drugs push ahead in developing treatments that help the body's own immune cells fight tumors, jostling with rivals including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co and AstraZeneca.

The Swiss company, which will buy Foundation through a combination of outstanding and newly issued shares, said the deal should help it to develop combination therapies and identify cancer patients more accurately.

"By combining Foundation's pioneering approach to genomics and molecular information with Roche's expertise in oncology, we can bring personalized healthcare to the next level", the head of Roche's pharmaceuticals division Dan O'Day said in a statement.

The move to bolster its personalized cancer treatments could cost the Swiss drugmaker up to $1.18 billion.

Roche said it will tender for about 15.6 million Foundation shares at $50 a share, worth about $780 million and at a premium of 109 percent to Friday's closing price. It will also invest $250 million by acquiring 5 million newly issued Foundation shares at $50 a share.

"Roche has shown once again its availability on paying no matter what price to strengthen its position in the oncology field," said one Zurich-based analyst who asked not to be identified.

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The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is seen outside the Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. headquarters in Shanghai May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song