Astex-Supergen merger set to create cancer leader
Cambridge(UK)/ Dublin (USA – British cancer specialist Astex Therapeutics Ltd and US firm SuperGen, Inc. will merge the two companies, if SuperGen’s shareholders confirm the fusion under the new name Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The companies announced its intention to create a global leader in innovative oncology drug discovery, development and commercialisation and forecasted $120 million in cash and cash equivalents post deal closure. Revenues from the new enterprise, which is expected to be listed on NASDAQ under the symbol ASTX, will flow from Supergen’s Apoptosis-inducing 2’-deoxycytidine analog Dacogen (decitabine) for the treatment of multiple types of myelodysplastic syndromes, licensed from MGI Pharma and co-marketed with Esai in the US. The combined company’s clinical pipeline will include seven drugs in development – four of which are currently in or entering into Phase II clinical trials and three of which are currently partnered with large pharmaceutical companies. Astex Therapeutics brings in three drug candidates set to enter Phase II trials this year: Astex’ HSP90 blocker AT13387 in refractory solid tumours, multi cycline kinase inhibitor AT7519 developed as treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and mantle cell lymphoma, and the firm’s multi-targeted Aurora/Jak kinase blocker AT9283 in multiple myeloma. Supergen contributes its multi-targeted tyrosine kinase blocker Amuvatinib (MP470) which has completed Phase I testing in GIST.
Under the terms of the agreements, SuperGen plans to purchase Astex Therapeutics Limited, paying Astex shareholders $25 million in cash, plus shares in SuperGen common stock representing 35 percent of the total post closing shares outstanding. Subsequently, SuperGen plans to pay deferred consideration in the amount of $30 million, to be paid in stock or cash at the discretion of the combined entity, over a period of 30 months.
Under the new management structure, James S.J. Manuso, chairman, president and chief executive officer of SuperGen Inc., would become chairman and chief executive officer of Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Harren Jhoti, chief executive officer of Astex Therapeutics Limited, would become president and a member of the Board of Directors of the combined entity. The Board of Directors of the combined entity would also include Peter Fellner as vice chairman, Walter Lack, Charles Casamento, Thomas Girardi, Allan Goldberg, Tim Haines and Ismail Kola.