Merck has signed an agreement to acquire biopharmaceutical company ArQule for a total equity value of around $2.7bn.
ArQule is involved in the research and development of targeted therapeutics for the treatment of cancers and certain rare diseases.
The company’s clinical-stage pipeline consists of four drug candidates, including ARQ 531, ARQ 751, miransertib (ARQ 092) and derazantinib.
ArQule CEO Paolo Pucci said: “We are proud that Merck has recognized the contributions that ArQule, together with its scientific collaborators, has made to the field of precision medicine in oncology with ARQ 531 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies and with the rest of our clinical-stage pipeline.”
The ARQ 531 is a novel, oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, which is currently in a phase 2 dose expansion trial to treat B-cell malignancies. It is a selective, reversible inhibitor that inhibits both wild-type BTK and the C481S mutant form of the enzyme, which is generally associated with resistance to other BTK inhibitors.
The ARQ 751 is a next-generation potent and selective AKT inhibitor, which is under phase 1 study to treat patients with solid tumours with AKT1 and PI3K mutations.
Miransertib (ARQ 092) is a potent and selective inhibitor of the AKT serine/threonine kinase that is currently under a registrational trial with cohorts in Proteus syndrome and PROS.
Derazantinib is a multi-kinase inhibitor designed to selectively block the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family. It is currently under registrational trial for iCCA in collaboration with Basilea and Sinovant.
As per terms of the deal, Merck’s subsidiary will commence a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of ArQule. Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into ArQule, upon the successful completion of the tender offer
Subject to certain conditions, the deal is expected to complete early in the first quarter of 2020.
On the transaction, BofA Securities served as financial advisor to Merck, while Covington & Burling as its legal advisor. Centerview Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to ArQule, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as its legal advisor.
Merck Research Laboratories president Dr Roger Perlmutter said: “ArQule’s focus on precision medicine has yielded multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors that have novel and important properties.”
In November, COI Pharmaceuticals announced that Merck agreed to acquire Calporta Therapeutics in a deal valued at around $576m.