Yesterday Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk made public a second proposition to buy Ablynx – developer of phase III thrombosis antibody-fragment candidate caplacizumab – for €2.6bn, up 14% from an initial unannounced offer €2.28bn.
However, the Belgian firm swiftly rebuffed the offer with CEO Edwin Moses saying Novo Nordisk’s “unsolicited conditional proposal is not in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders as it fundamentally undervalues caplacizumab, the Ablynx pipeline, platform, technology, people, and know how.”
Novo Nordisk spokesperson Katrine Rud von Sperling told this publication Ablynx’s board of directors “have declined to engage in any discussions, which would allow Novo Nordisk to better understand Ablynx’s management’s view on the company’s prospects and the valuation of Ablynx.”
She added: “We do therefore encourage Ablynx’s BoD to engage in a negotiated transaction to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Ablynx’s share price soared 44% on the back of the rejection.
Nanobody pipeline and tech platform
Nanobodies are single-domain antibodies developed by Ablynx which bind to specific antigens. While their action is similar to that of antibodies, they are just a fraction of the size.
Caplacizumab, an anti-von Willebrand factor (vWF) Nanobody, is Ablynx’s lead candidate intended to block the interaction of ultra-large vWF multimers (ULvWF) with platelets having an immediate effect on platelet aggregation and the micro-clots that cause severe thrombocytopenia, tissue ischemia and organ dysfunction in acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP).
Ablynx’s nanobody discovery platform, which uses llama-based heavy-chain only antibodies as a starting point to produce antibody-fragments with full antigen binding capacity, is licensed to a number of biopharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of North America), Merck Serono, Novartis and Sanofi.
And in 2015, Novo Nordisk itself madea €5m upfront payment to license the tech in a three-year deal to discover and develop multi-specific drug candidates for use in an undisclosed disease area.