Sanofi buys Kymab for up to $1.5 billion to expand in immunotherapy

The logo of Sanofi is seen at the company's headquarters in Paris, France

French drugmaker Sanofi has agreed to buy British immunotherapy firm Kymab for up to $1.45 billion, the latest in a string of deals as it belatedly expands in a fast-growing medical area.

The deal, which will see Sanofi pay $1.1 billion upfront, will give it full rights to Kymab’s KY1005, an antibody therapy viewed as having the potential to treat a wide range of inflammatory disorders and immune-related diseases.

KY1005 passed a mid-stage Phase IIa clinical trial in August.

The deal price could increase by $350 million based on reaching certain milestones, Sanofi said on Monday.

Its shares were little changed in early trading.

The deal is the latest acquisition for Sanofi.

In November, it spent 308 million euros ($376 million) on Dutch biotechnology company Kiadis, which specialises in cell-based immunotherapy products to treat cancer.

In August, it scooped up U.S. autoimmune diseases specialist Principia Biopharma for $3.7 billion, following a $2.5 billion investment to acquire immuno-oncology treatments group Synthorx in December 2019.

Sanofi was late to capitalise on the take-off of immunotherapy – drugs that activate the body’s immune system to attack tumour cells – in the early 2010s.

It is now trying to catch up and is focusing on a pipeline of several medicines that it hopes will secure it a piece of the $100 billion-a-year cancer drug market.

Kymab’s pipeline also includes KY1044, a cancer treatment currently in Phase I/II clinical development.

The acquisition, to be paid in cash, is expected to be completed by the end of June.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is acting as Sanofi’s legal counsel, Sanofi said, while J.P. Morgan is acting as financial adviser to Kymab and Goodwin PLC is acting as its legal counsel.

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