Pozen to redomicile as it agrees to buy Tribute Pharmaceuticals

Mon Jun 8, 2015 10:59am EDT
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By Olivia Oran

June 8 (Reuters) - Specialty pharmaceuticals company Pozen Inc said on Monday it would acquire Tribute Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc for about $144 million, in a deal that would shift its domicile to Ireland and cut its tax bill.

The merged company, to be called Aralez Pharmaceuticals Plc, will focus on cardiovascular treatments and be led by Adrian Adams, who previously served as chief executive of men's healthcare-focused company Auxilium Pharmaceuticals. Auxilium was acquired by Endo International Plc for $2.6 billion last year.

Adams became CEO of Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Pozen just one week ago, after founder John Plachetka retired. Pozen's primary drug, Yosprala, is a so-called "safer form" of aspirin designed to reduce gastrointestinal side effects.

As part of the transaction, a group of investors including healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management and Canadian biotech company QLT Inc will invest up to $350 million in growth capital for Aralez.

Adams' history intertwines with that of QLT. As CEO of Auxilium, his efforts to acquire QLT in June 2014 were thwarted after Endo made an unsolicited offer for Auxilium.

Pozen's deal with Tribute is the latest in a series of politically controversial "inversions", in which a U.S. companies can lower their tax rates by shifting their domiciles abroad.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced a series of steps last September designed to make inversions more difficult and potentially less rewarding. Several high-profile deals, such as U.S. drugmaker Abbvie Inc's $55 billion acquisition of Dublin-based Shire Plc, were canceled as a result.

"Clearly we are very familiar with the broader environment, but we believe the nature of the transaction at this particular point in time will withstand any speculation in the future," Adams said in an interview.   Continued...