Rare Daily Staff

Merck said it will acquire cancer and rare disease drug developer ArQule for $20 per share in cash or approximately $2.7 billion.

ArQule is focused on kinase inhibitor discovery and development for the treatment of patients with cancer and rare diseases. Though driven by its experimental BTK inhibitor for B-cell malignancies, the company also has an FGFR inhibitor in development for the rare cancer intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and an AKT inhibitor in development for the rare disease Proteus syndrome as well as other bone overgrowth diseases.

“ArQule’s focus on precision medicine has yielded multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors that have novel and important properties,” said Roger Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “This acquisition strengthens Merck’s pipeline with the addition of these strategic assets including, most notably, ARQ 531, a compelling candidate for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.”

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of ArQule. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain customary conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into ArQule, and any remaining shares of common stock of ArQule will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $20 per share price payable in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2020.

“With this agreement, ArQule’s pipeline will benefit from Merck’s vast capabilities and determined engagement to benefit the patients who we have always strived to serve,” said Paolo Pucci, CEO, ArQule.

Photo: Paolo Pucci, CEO of ArQule

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