Angelini’s acquisition of Arvelle for $1bn

By Aron Adamski, BSc Economics @LSE



  • Announcement date: 04/01/2021

Italian pharmaceutical company, Angelini Pharma, signed definitive agreement to acquire emerging Swiss biotech company Arvelle Therapeutics from a group of investors for $960mn. The deal marks Italian drugmaker’s ambition to become a leading European player in the treatment of central nervous system and mental diseases.

Following regulatory approval, $610mn will be paid. Subsequently, and subject to Cenobamate (an epilepsy drug) reaching certain revenue targets, a further $350mn will be paid. SK Biopharmaceuticals will sell 12% stake of Arvelle and will remain eligible to receive all payments inherited by the exclusive licensing agreement for the development and commercialisation of the epilepsy drug in Europe, which was signed between SK and Arvelle in 2019.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and the deal is expected to be completed in Q1 2021.

COMPANY DETAILS: Angelini Pharma

©Angelini Pharma
  • Founded in: 1919

Angelini Pharma is the pharmaceutical division of Angelini Group. It manufactures, markets, and distributes pharmaceutical products in the field of mental health, rare diseases and consumer health (i.e. OTC brands). It has production plants Italy, Spain and USA, and is present in 70 countries, employing more than 2,700 people.

COMPANY DETAILS: Arvelle Therapeutics

©Arvelle Therapeutics
  • Founded in: 2019

Arvelle Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company which focuses on inventing and manufacturing drugs for patients suffering from nervous system disorders, such as eplilepsy. It is involved in the development and commercialisation of Cenobamate, an antiepileptic drug, in the European market. The drug received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration two years ago.



Following the acquisition, Angelini will have the exclusive licence to commercialise Cenobamate across the EU, UK and Switzerland. Angelini announced that it plans to open subsidiaries in the UK, France, the Nordics and Switzerland by 2022 to support the commercialisation. It offers a promising stream of revenues as more than 6mn people suffer from epilepsy in Europe, according to the World Health Organization and one in three Europeans suffers from some kind of nervous system disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, according to the Paris Brain Institute. Innovative biotechnological treatments also command higher pricing premiums due to high R&D costs, further increasing the scope for revenue boost.

“This transaction will propel us into the group of top European players, well positioned to address the needs of patients with different central nervous system disorders through an innovative portfolio, distinctive medical capabilities and extensive commercial presence.” ~ Pierluigi Antonelli, CEO Angelini Pharma


Investing in biotechnological companies always carries a risk of overpaying for the target. That’s because their high valuations are contingent on the approval of treatments after clinical stage trials and successful commercialisation. Nevertheless, Cenobamate has already been approved in the US a long-time ago. Therefore, the European regulators will probably follow suit. Add to that, Angelini’s vast experience and resources, the commercialisation of the drug in Europe may be a success.

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