William Blair Sees Biotech M&A Continuing in 2020; Issues Top 10 Predictions

December 31, 2019 7:03 AM EST
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Previewing 2020, William Blair biotech analyst Raju Prasad said they believe M&A will continue to play a large role in smid-cap gene and cell therapy performance. Prasad also issued his Top 10 Predictions for 2020.

They anticipate more companies acquiring their way into the space and further tuck-in deals from companies that have already entered.

In their coverage, he sees Rocket (NASDAQ: RCKT), Krystal (NASDAQ: KRYS), and CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CRSP) as the most likely smid-cap companies to be acquired.

10 Predictions for 2020:

10. Private and public funding environment for gene therapy, cell therapy, and gene editing will likely be down 10%- 15% year-over-year, in our view

9. We anticipate at least one public unicorn IPO in 2020

8. IPO stock performance in cell therapy, gene therapy, and gene editing in 2020 will beat 2019

7. Number of M&A deals and total transaction amounts will be higher year-over-year

6. Another large biotech company will acquire its way into the gene therapy sector - "We believe the likeliest companies to enter the gene therapy space in a bigger way next year are Novo Nordisk (potentially through Uniqure (NASDAQ: QURE)), Takeda (potentially acquiring Uniqure or AskBio), Alexion (potentially acquiring Krystal Biotech or PassageBio), Gilead (potentially acquiring Precision Biosciences (NASDAQ: DTIL) or Sangamo (NASDAQ: SGMO)), or AbbVie (potentially acquiring Voyager (NASDAQ: VYGR), PassageBio, or Encoded Therapeutics)."

5. One of the companies that entered the space via acquisition in 2019 will make another bolt-on acquisition/licensing deal

4. A large allogeneic cell therapy deal will be struck We believe that post-data from several companies (Allogene (NASDAQ: ALLO), CRISPR Therapeutics, and Precision Biosciences) expected in the first half of 2020, a larger biotech will either partner for co-developing/co-commercializing the product or acquire the platform all together. Potential companies are Takeda, Bristol Myers Squibb, Gilead, or Johnson & Johnson

3. We anticipate that CRISPR Therapeutics will be acquired by Vertex We believe that the CRISPR/Cas9 platform will have its first exit in 2020, with Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) acquiring the company and likely spinning off the allogeneic cell therapy platform to another company (see prediction No. 4)

2. The first deal with a company with lentiviral-based products will be completed

1. A company in the space will declare bankruptcy/strategic review/become a target of a reverse merger

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