Thursday, January 16, 2014

EnVivo Speculates That GlycoFi May Be The Next Exited -- From Mother Merck

Write this name down -- or, better yet, bookmark it: EnVivo. This is a well-written, snarky, well-sourced blog. Do go read it regularly.

Overnight, EnVivo did a small send up of the various Merck "percolations," out of the just-concluded JP Morgan confab in San Francisco. In it, the (quite well-educated) guess is that GlycoFi is the next Merck-acquired tech asset to take a long walk down the pier -- a la Sirna. Or off the end of it -- from Whitehouse Station's perspective -- more precisely.

I can't do it justice -- go read it all, but here's a bit (and our backgrounder, here):

. . . .As the J.P. Morgan conference began to clog the San Francisco streets and restaurants on Sunday night, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals got the party started with a bang. In industry's first major deal of the year, Alnylam signed a broad agreement with Sanofi’s Genzyme Corp. and, separately and perhaps more dramatically, bought Merck & Co.’s RNA interference assets (essentially the remnants of Sirna Therapeutics) for $175 million ($25 million was cash and $150 million in Alnylam stock).

The latter deal unleashed the schadenfreude. Merck paid $1.1 billion for Sirna, then Alnylam’s biggest RNAi rival, back in 2006. It had been predictably if annoyingly tight lipped about any progress (or lack thereof) it was making with RNAi therapeutics ever since. And with 200 people within Merck working to surmount the therapeutic modality’s famous delivery challenges and more or less build an RNAi franchise for most of the past seven years, $1.1 billion was likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Why Alnylam wanted Sirna goes beyond (figuratively of course) putting the stuffed head of its former rival on the wall in the Cambridge company’s boardroom (but sure, on some level, that’s gotta be part of it?). Merck apparently did make some progress on sub-q delivery of RNAi and it had some IP that Alnylam likely wanted to tie up. . . . Allow us to speculate [about other possible divestiture, spin-off, spin-out or out-license deals]: One that comes to mind was another high-profile 2006 acquisition: the yeast-based antibody manufacturing play GlycoFi. . . .

As I say -- great breezy, easy reading, and well-informed. Love the sassiness, too. Do tune in, over there. And be excellent to one another!

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