Allergan Announces Pair Of Acquisitions

Allergan Plc. (NYSE:AGN) announced a pair of acquisitions on Tuesday, both of companies developing treatments for liver disease. Allergan changed its dealmaking strategy following the collapse of its planned $160 billion merger with Pfizer Inc. Now, the company is focusing on acquiring small and mid-sized assets. The company will hold a conference call Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. EST to discuss the acquisitions.

Allergan announced that it would buy Tobira Therapeutics Inc. for as much as $1.7 billion. According to the statement, Allergan will pay $28.35 a share in cash upfront for Tobira. That amount could rise to as much as $49.84 per share if Tobira hits certain sales and regulatory goals. The deal values Tobira at about $533 million based on the lower price and number of shares outstanding.

The Tobira deal represents a 498 percent premium compared to the company’s closing stock price the previous day and is nearly six times its market capitalization of $89 million. Covington & Burling LLP was Allergan’s lead legal counsel for the Tobira deal, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP provided legal counsel for Tobira. Centerview Partners and Citigroup Inc. were Tobira’s financial advisers.

Tobira has developed a drug called cenicriviroc that is designed to suppress two proteins involved in moderating the immune system’s response in the liver, the leading cause of the inflammation and liver scarring seen in Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a severe type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease accompanied by inflammation and cellular damage.

NASH is one of biotechnology’s hottest areas and several drugmakers are seeking to acquire treatments for the disease. As obesity rates rise, the condition is becoming more common. The inflammation that characterizes the condition can lead to fibrosis (scarring) of the liver and may eventually result in cirrhosis, portal hypertension, liver cancer, and/or liver failure. NASH currently affects 2 percent to 5 percent of Americans.

Allergan also announced a $50 million deal to acquire Akarna Therapeutics Ltd. Akarna has developed an experimental drug targeted at a protein involved in the fat buildup that can lead to NASH. Akarna may receive additional payments depending on how its drug progresses.

These are Allergan’s third and fourth acquisitions this month. On Sept. 9, the company purchased ophthalmology gene-therapy firm RetroSense Therapeutics LLC for $60 million. On Sept. 14, Allergan bought dermatology company Vitae Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $639 million. In the announcement of the most recent deals, Allergan seemed to hint that more deals might be in the pipeline.