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Apr 30, 2013

Ligand Buys Potential Milestone/Royalty Portfolio in Up To $4.5M Deal

  • Ligand Pharmaceuticals said today it acquired from Selexis a portfolio of potential future milestone and royalty payments for more than 15 biologic development programs—each fully funded by a development partner.

    Ligand paid Selexis $3.5 million of up-front cash, and expects to make a $1 million cash payment to Selexis on the first anniversary of the closing, Ligand said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The company did not provide additional details on the programs that were part of the deal. In its Form 10-K annual report for 2012, filed March 14, Ligand said “a significant number” of its partners and their programs remain undisclosed to protect competitive and proprietary information.

    In today’s announcement, Ligand did disclose that the acquired programs—all in various preclinical or clinical development stages—expand Ligand’s portfolio to more than 85 fully funded assets, and broaden that portfolio beyond small molecule therapeutics into biologics. The deal also expands Ligand’s presence in growing therapeutic markets such as oncology, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

    “The acquired rights are a great fit with our royalty-based business model, and the deal does not require operational integration or ongoing technical responsibilities from Ligand,” John Higgins, Ligand’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe this acquisition reinforces the strength of our shots-on-goal strategy and has the potential to provide Ligand with numerous new drivers of long-term growth.”

    Shots-on-goal is Ligand’s metaphor for its business model of assembling a large portfolio of drug-development assets, reasoning that since most drug candidates fail, having more programs in development raises its likelihood of eventual success. In addition to acquiring portfolio assets, Ligand’s strategy also entails advancing R&D to the earliest point at which it can attract a partner.

    Ligand said earlier this year it expects to receive royalties from seven marketed products this year, and has multiple partnered programs at Phase IIb through NDA submission, representing its future upcoming potential revenue-generating programs.

    Selexis will use proceeds from the sale to further develop new SUREtechnology Platform™ products, the Swiss company’s CEO Igor Fisch, Ph.D., said in a separate statement.

    SUREtechnology is based on new DNA-based elements that control the dynamic organization of chromatin within all mammalian cells, allowing for higher and more stable expression of recombinant proteins. SUREtechnology promises advantages over traditional discovery, development and manufacturing of recombinant proteins and drugs, such as higher speed, higher long-term yield, stability, and flexibility.

    The deal will still leave Selexis with milestone and potential royalty interest payment rights to 14 biologic development programs not included in the Ligand deal.

    Founded in 2001, Selexis offers technologies and services designed to significantly reduce the time, effort, and costs associated with developing high-performance mammalian cell lines for therapeutic protein production, such as monoclonal antibodies, growth factors, and enzymes. Selexis has generated more than 1,700 cell lines being used in a variety of programs from drug discovery to late-stage clinical trials.


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