Roche completes $4.3B purchase of Philadelphia gene therapy pioneer Spark Therapeutics

Spark Therapeutics co-founders Dr. Katherine High and Jeffrey D. Marrazzo. (PSC Photo Studio)

Spark Therapeutics co-founders Dr. Katherine High and Jeffrey D. Marrazzo. (PSC Photo Studio)

This article originally appeared on Philadelphia Business Journal.

The Federal Trade Commission and European regulators cleared Roche’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Spark Therapeutics, paving the way for its acquisition of the Philadelphia gene therapy pioneer to be completed Tuesday.

Roche entered into an agreement to buy Spark (NASDAQ: ONCE) in February. Its tender offer to Spark shareholders, however, was extended 10 times to provide additional time for the Federal Trade Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority to complete their reviews of the deal.

No conditions were placed on either company by regulators.

Roche of Basel, Switzerland, said Tuesday morning that about 23.3 million shares of Spark’s common stock were validly tendered at the $114.50 per share offer price as of 5 p.m. Monday. That number represents about 60.4% of the total number of shares of Spark’s common stock outstanding.

Earlier this month, only about 5.7 million shares of Spark — representing 14.9% of the company’s outstanding shares — had been validly tendered and received. The volume tendered share increased after Roche and Spark announced a shorter time frame for its latest tender offer extension, leading to speculation regulator approval was imminent.

Roche and Spark had set a April 2020 deadline for completing the deal, while maintaining they were hopeful the merger could be completed before the end of this year.

Spark — which has grown to more than 300 employees — will continue to be based in Philadelphia and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche. Spark’s shares will cease to be traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

You can read my detailed account about how the deal came together here.

Spark, spun out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2013, developed the gene therapy product Luxturna — which holds the distinction of being the first gene therapy product approved by the Food and Drug Administration for an inherited disease. Luxturna is used to treat a retinal disorder that causes blindness. The one-time treatment is priced at $425,000 per eye.

Spark’s pipeline of experimental gene therapies target other genetic diseases including additional retinal disorders, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

CEO Jeffrey D. Marrazzo said approval of the deal “ushers in a new and promising era in the development of genetic medicines for patients and families living with inherited diseases and beyond.”

Disclosure: Spark Therapeutics CEO Jeffrey D. Marrazzo is the son of WHYY’s president and chief executive officer William Marrazzo.

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