Menarini proves Covid-19 no barrier to deal-making

Large-scale M&A might be off the table during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Menarini proved today that the day-to-day business of smaller transactions continues, as companies bolster pipelines and expand into new markets. The privately held Italian pharma group is buying Stemline Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $677m, essentially for Stemline’s lead product, the FDA-approved cancer drug Elzonris. This will give Menarini access to the US oncology market, and beef up its own fledgling cancer portfolio. The $12.50 a share Menarini is paying – $11.50 in cash –  is a 140% premium to Stemline’s closing price on Friday. This is a bold move for Menarini, which rarely does M&A; its biggest licensing deals include buying regional rights to the heart drug Ranexa back in 2008, and three antibiotics from Melinta Therapeutics in 2018. Given the estimated economic impact to its home country from Covid-19 it is not surprising that Menarini is looking to strenghten its presence in the US and other European countries through an approved product. Beefing up in oncology, the industry’s fastest growing therapy area, is also a sensible move.

Selected Menarini deals
Partner Product Type Date Indication  Value ($m)
Stemline Therapeutics Elzonris Acquisition May 2020 Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm 677
CV Therapeutics Ranexa In-licensed Mar 2008 Angina, coronary artery disease 385*
Melinta Therapeutics Orbactiv In-licensed Oct 2018 Skin infections; gram positive infections 265*
4SC Resminostat In-licensed Apr 2015 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma; hepatoma 103*
*Total deal value, terms also involved up-front payments. Source: EvaluatePharma.

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