Sanofi’s acquisition of Kymab for $1.45bn

M&A Hub
3 min readJan 15, 2021

By Aron Adamski, BSc Economics @LSE

©Getty

OVERVIEW OF THE DEAL:

  • Announcement date: 11/01/2021
  • Industry: Biotechnology
  • Deal value: $1.45bn
  • Deal consideration: All-cash
  • Acquirer advisors: n/a
  • Target advisors: J.P. Morgan

French drugmaker Sanofi entered into an agreement to acquire 8.7% stake (8.9mn shares) in UK biotech group, Kymab, for $1.4bn from Hepalink.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will acquire Kymab for an upfront payment of approximately $1.1bn and up to $350mn upon achievement of certain milestones. The transaction will result in Sanofi having full global rights to KY1005 treatment of eczema, a skin condition.

The acquisition is the fourth since Paul Hudson took over as chief executive at Sanofi and is in line with Hudson’s strategy of exiting the diabetes and cardiovascular fields and focusing on rare disease, hematology, neurology and cancer.

Pharmaceutical and biotech acquisitions by Sanofi since 2015.

“I think it shows how focused we are in doing … M&A right in the areas where we’re strong from a capability perspective, where there’s low marginal cost to commercialise and where accretion can be reached faster.” ~ Paul Hudson, CEO Sanofi

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

COMPANY DETAILS: Sanofi

©Sanofi
  • Founded in: 1994
  • Headquartered in: Paris, France
  • Market Cap: $123.9bn
  • EV: $135bn
  • LTM EBITDA: $12.05bn
  • EV/ LTM EBITDA: 11.2x

Sanofi is a French multinational pharmaceutical company which researches, develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical drugs principally in the prescription market, but the firm also develops over-the-counter medication. In 2013 it was the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceutical company by prescription sales.

COMPANY DETAILS: Kymab

©Kymab
  • Founded in: 2009
  • Headquartered in: Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Funding received: $231.7mn

Kymab is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of novel human antibody-based therapies. Since 2010, its total R&D investment totalled $280mn. Currently, Kymab is studying the use of a new monoclonal antibody drug known as KY1005 for the treatment of eczema, a skin condition. The drug is still going through trials.

STRATEGIC RATIONALE:

KYMAB’S PIPELINE AND EXPERTISE

The main asset that Kymab brings to the table, and the one that Sanofi is willing to pay a hefty price tag for, is Kymab’s eczema treatment. It produced compelling results in a phase 2 trial last August. It works by binding certain molecules and has potential to treat a wide variety of immune-mediated diseases and inflammatory disorders. Moreover, Kymab has expertise at engineering mice that can produce human antibodies to treat cancer, infections and other diseases. These highly innovative treatments researched by Kymab offer Sanofi opportunity to diversify its revenue streams and position itself strongly in rapidly growing biotech sector.

RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES:

Recently, Sanofi’s shares have been trading at a discount to its peers. They were priced at around 13x expected 2021 earnings, compared with average multiple of 16x for large European pharmaceutical companies. This might be partly due to Sanofi’s strategy of “buying science” as opposed to investing more heavily in treatments that are profitable as of now. Hence, Sanofi’s future success will largely depend on how their biotech bets perform over the next few years.

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