Documents reveal bidding war between Roche, unnamed firm for Spark Therapeutics

Documents released Thursday show that Spark Therapeutics generated takeover interest from a number of parties before agreeing last month to be bought by Roche for $114.50 per share in cash, or approximately $4.3 billion. The filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows that an unnamed second company, dubbed Party C, submitted a cash offer of $105 per share after Spark sought best and final proposals from the bidders on February 22.

Spark initially engaged in discussions with Roche and two unnamed drugmakers between May and August of last year regarding a potential collaboration with respect to its haemophilia A programmes and product candidates, which include SPK-8011 and SPK-8016. According to the SEC filing, one of the unnamed drugmakers was prepared to make upfront payments of $450 million plus potential milestones and royalties for such a collaboration, while others considered purchasing the whole company. Earlier this year, Spark also reached out to Party C, which had indicated that it was interested in exploring a potential acquisition of the company.

The SEC filing reveals that Roche first tabled an offer of $70 per share in December last year, lifting it to $73 per share in January, after which Party C made a bid of $75 per share. 

Further takeover offers were made by the two drugmakers on February 22, including one of $84 per share from Party C and one of $91 per share from Roche, before the final bids were tabled. Spark informed Roche later that day that the board had unanimously approved its final offer, after which the agreement was made public.

In an interview earlier this week, Novartis chairman Joerg Reinhardt declined to say whether his company had submitted a takeover offer for Spark prior to the latter's agreement with Roche. Novartis markets Spark's gene therapy Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec) outside the US, including in Europe, where the treatment was approved last November for the treatment of vision loss in certain patients.

For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Roche pivots into gene therapy.


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