Merck (MRK) to Acquire Pandion Therapeutics (PAND) for $60/Share in $1.85 Billion Deal
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Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Pandion Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: PAND) today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement, under which Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire Pandion, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics designed to address the unmet needs of patients living with autoimmune diseases, for $60 per share in cash. This represents an approximate total equity value of $1.85 billion.
“This acquisition builds upon Merck’s strategy to identify and secure candidates with differentiated and potentially foundational characteristics,” said Dr. Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Pandion has applied its TALON technology to develop a robust pipeline of candidates designed to re-balance the immune response with potential applications across a wide array of autoimmune diseases.”
Pandion is advancing a pipeline of precision immune modulators targeting critical immune control nodes. The company’s lead candidate, PT101, is an engineered IL-2 mutein fused to a protein backbone designed to selectively activate and expand regulatory T cells (Tregs) for the potential treatment of ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases. Earlier this year, Pandion announced that PT101 had completed a Phase 1a clinical trial, which achieved its primary objective of safety and tolerability. The company’s pipeline also includes PD-1 agonists in development for numerous autoimmune diseases.
“Pandion grew out of our founders’ personal and scientific mission to change the way patients living with autoimmune diseases are treated. In just a few years, we have taken that mission from idea to clinical proof of mechanism with PT101, our lead IL-2 mutein. We are proud that Merck has recognized our team’s innovation and drive in creating a pipeline of diverse candidates that activate natural immune regulatory mechanisms and thereby have the potential to achieve better clinical responses for patients,” said Dr. Rahul Kakkar, chief executive officer, Pandion Therapeutics. “We believe Merck is well positioned to bring our novel approach to the millions of those living with autoimmune diseases, and we look forward to seeing these molecules progress in the clinic.”
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Pandion. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing at least a majority of the total number of Pandion’s shares of fully-diluted common stock, the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into Pandion, and any remaining shares of common stock of Pandion will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $60 per share price payable in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021.
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as financial advisor to Merck and Covington & Burling LLP as its legal advisor. Centerview Partners LLC acted as financial advisor to Pandion and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as its legal advisor.
About Regulatory T Cells (Tregs)
Tregs act as a control node within the immune system and can inhibit the activity of several different pro-inflammatory immune cell types. Tregs are critical for self-tolerance, or the ability of the immune system to recognize a hosts’ cells and not produce an immune attack against them. Defects in Tregs result in multi-organ inflammation and their dysfunction is associated with many autoimmune diseases. Multiple third-party clinical trials suggest that expansion of Tregs by low-dose IL-2 can benefit patients with autoimmune diseases.
PT101 is an engineered IL-2 mutein fused to a protein backbone designed to selectively activate and expand regulatory T cells for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system inappropriately attacks a host’s cells, and targeting Tregs could allow the immune system to regain control and return to homeostasis. PT101 has completed a Phase 1a clinical trial, which achieved its primary objective of safety and tolerability. In the trial, PT101 demonstrated proof of mechanism by selectively expanding Tregs in healthy volunteers.
Important Information About the Tender Offer
The tender offer described in this press release (the “Offer”) has not yet commenced. This press release is for informational purposes only and is neither an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell any shares of the common stock of Pandion Therapeutics, Inc. (“Pandion”) or any other securities. At the time the planned tender offer is commenced, a tender offer statement on Schedule TO, including an offer to purchase, a letter of transmittal and related documents, will be filed by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. (“Merck”) and Panama Merger Sub, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Merck, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), and a solicitation/recommendation statement on Schedule 14D-9 will be filed by Pandion with the SEC. The offer to purchase shares of Pandion common stock will only be made pursuant to the offer to purchase, the letter of transmittal and related documents filed as a part of the Schedule TO.
INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ BOTH THE TENDER OFFER STATEMENT AND THE SOLICITATION/RECOMMENDATION STATEMENT REGARDING THE OFFER, AS THEY MAY BE AMENDED FROM TIME TO TIME, WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of these statements (when available) and other documents filed with the SEC at the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov or by directing such requests to the Information Agent for the Offer, which will be named in the tender offer statement. Additional copies of the tender offer materials may be obtained at no charge by contacting Merck at 2000 Galloping Hill Road, Kenilworth, N.J., 07033 or by phoning (908) 423-1000. In addition, Merck and Pandion will file annual, quarterly and current reports and other information with the SEC. Merck’s and Pandion’s filings with the SEC also will be available to the public from commercial document-retrieval services and at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
About Pandion Therapeutics
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