Bristol-Myers Announces Investment in UniQure

Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to invest in UniQure NV a Dutch company to collaborate on gene therapies used for cardiovascular disease.

Due to the investment, Bristol-Myers will have an exclusive access to the company’s proprietary program of gene therapy related to congestive heart failure. Both companies will be collaborating on a total of 10 targets and might work on other projects in the future related to other diseases.

Bristol-Myers is paying close to $100 million for this investment, which includes one upfront payment of approximately $50 million, one payment of $15 million for the selection of two collaboration targets as well as an investment of $32 million in UniQure that will represent approximately a 4.9% share in that company.

Bristol-Myers is also acquiring another 5% of equity prior to the end of this year at a premium of 10%.

UniQure could receive as much as $254 million more, if there are certain milestones met. The company is eligible as well for more than $217 million from other products related to gene therapy.

UniQure shares soared more than 42% during premarket trading reaching as high as $32.45 on Monday. Shares of Bristol-Myers have been up more than 27% over the last year, but slipped on Monday by 0.4% and stand at $63.02.

UniQure, which is based in Amsterdam, will make supplies through use of its insect-cell based platform for manufacturing. Bristol-Myers will cover the costs of research & development along with the costs of lead development and those of commercialization.

Joern Aldag the CEO at UniQure said the new collaboration with Bristol-Myers will accelerate the gene therapy application for large populations of patients suffering through heart diseases. Aldag added that it would also compliment further development of the internal pipeline of UniQure.

Bristol-Myers, based in New York, is preparing for a shift in management, with Dr. Giovanni Caforio the COO ready to become the company’s CEO in May. Caforio is a trained physician and will be the successor to Lamberto Andreotti the current CEO who will become the board of directors’ chairman.

Dr. Caforio has the task of maintaining the early lead of Bristol-Myers in immunotherapy treatments while coping with aging products being lost.