Bayer HealthCare nabs antibody and protease biotech Direvo for approximately $300 million

Bayer HealthCare last week announced its acquisition of Direvo Biotech AG in an all cash deal valued at approximately Є210 million, or $300 million. The deal comes as Bayer has recently indicated it will look to fill out its drug discovery operation through the pursuit of smaller acquisitions.

Chris Anderson
LEVERKUSEN, Germany—Bayer HealthCare last week announced its acquisition of Direvo Biotech AG in an all cash deal valued at approximately E210 million, or $300 million. Direvo Industrial Biotechnology GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Direvo Biotech AG, was not included in the transaction and has been sold in a separate deal to a group of financial investors.

The deal comes as Bayer—not shy of mega acquisitions, as evidenced by its Є16 billion acquisition of Schering in 2006—has recently indicated it will look to fill out its drug discovery operation through the pursuit of smaller acquisitions.

Direvo fits into that mold and should help Bayer strengthen its position in the biologicals arena. Direvo's protein engineering platform uses high-throughput technologies for the rapid discovery and optimization of biopharmaceuticals. The platform has already been successfully applied to a wide range of proteins, including therapeutic antibodies and proteases that will be added to the preclinical pipeline of Bayer Schering.

"We are committed to further strengthening our biologicals portfolio, and Direvo's leadership in protein engineering provides promising opportunities for further business growth," says Arthur Higgins, CEO of Bayer HealthCare, in a statement announcing the deal.

Bayer Healthcare plans to integrate Direvo's R&D personnel into Bayer Schering's drug discovery organization. Direvo's site current site in Cologne will be maintained and integrated into Bayer Schering as a center of expertise for biologicals alongside the company's two global R&D centers in Germany and its center in Berkeley, Calif.
Direvo currently has collaborations in place with Pfizer and AstraZeneca unit MedImmune based on the company's protease technology, which it calls "Therapases."

The deal with Pfizer is for undisclosed targets, while the MedImmune collaboration is for a range CNS disorders. The company also has a significant presence in monoclonal antibodies with current programs targeting cancer and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.

"With this deal we emphasize our position as a recognized leader in protein engineering. Bayer HealthCare is our new owner of choice not only because of the excellent perspectives for our projects but also due to the close geographic proximity," says Thomas von Rüden, CEO of Direvo Biotech AG. "We feel that this is in the best interest of our former owners and our employees. As part of Bayer Schering Pharma we will further develop our expertise and knowledge in biopharmaceutical research." DDN

Chris Anderson

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