Roche and Ignyta announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Roche to fully acquire Ignyta at a price of US$ 27.00 per share in an all-cash transaction. This corresponds to a total transaction value of US$ 1.7 billion on a fully diluted basis. This price represents a premium of 74% to Ignyta’s closing price on 21 December 2017 and a premium of 71% and 89% to Ignyta’s 30-day and 90-day volume weighted average share price on 21 December 2017, respectively. The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of Ignyta and Roche.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Roche will promptly commence a tender offer, to acquire all outstanding shares of Ignyta common stock, and Ignyta will file a recommendation statement containing the unanimous recommendation of the Ignyta board that Ignyta’s shareholders tender their shares to Roche.
Ignyta, based in San Diego, California, is focused on precision medicine in oncology aiming to test, identify, and treat patients with cancers harbouring specific rare mutations.
Ignyta’s lead molecule entrectinib is an orally bioavailable, CNS-active tyrosine kinase inhibitor being developed for tumours that harbor ROS1 or NTRK fusions. An ongoing pivotal phase 2 clinical trial will support, if successful, dual NDA submissions. Entrectinib targets tumours with one of two genetically defined gene rearrangements: ROS1 fusions in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and NTRK fusions across a broad range of solid tumours.
In the recently announced interim data including patients from the STARTRK-2 trial in patients with ROS1 fusion-positive advanced NSCLC, entrectinib demonstrated a 78 percent (25 out of 32; by Investigator) and 69 percent (22 out of 32; by blinded independent central review, BICR) confirmed objective response rate (ORR). Entrectinib also showed a median duration of response of 28.6 months and median progression free survival of 29.6 months in this population, with 53 percent of patients remaining on study. Moreover, entrectinib showed 83 percent (5 out of 6 by BICR) confirmed intracranial ORR in patients with measurable brain metastases. Safety was consistent with previous studies of entrectinib. With over 200 patients treated at the recommended phase 2 dose, most adverse events (AEs) were Grade 1-2 and reversible, and only 3 percent of patients discontinued from the study due to treatment-related AEs. The program is tracking towards dual NDA submissions in NTRK tumour-agnostic and ROS1 NSCLC, if supported by clinical data, with an anticipated US commercial launch in both indications thereafter.
Commenting on the transaction, Daniel O’Day, CEO Roche Pharmaceuticals, said, “Cancer is a highly complex disease and many patients suffer from mutations which are difficult to detect and treat. The agreement with Ignyta builds on Roche’s strategy of fitting treatments to patients and will allow Roche to broaden and strengthen its oncology portfolio globally.”
Ignyta will continue its operations in San Diego and be responsible for the ongoing pivotal study of entrectinib to ensure this important medicine reaches patients without delay. Commenting on the transaction, Ignyta’s Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder, Jonathan E. Lim, said, “Ignyta has been singularly focused on developing precisely targeted therapeutics guided by diagnostics for patients with rare cancers. We are excited that Roche, the global leader in both oncology and personalised healthcare, recognises this powerful approach and shares our passion for advancing entrectinib for the benefit of patients.”
Terms of the agreement
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Roche will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Ignyta’s common stock at a price of US$ 27.00 per share in cash. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to a majority of Ignyta’s outstanding shares being tendered in the tender offer. In addition, the transaction is subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other customary conditions.
Following completion of the tender offer, Roche will acquire all remaining shares at the same price of US$ 27.00 per share through a second step merger. The closing of the transaction is expected to take place in the first half of 2018.
Citi is acting as financial advisor to Roche and Sidley Austin LLP is acting as legal counsel to Roche. BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC are acting as financial advisors to Ignyta and Latham & Watkins LLP is acting as legal counsel to Ignyta.