Supergen and Astex Therapeutics enter definitive merger agreement

Posted: 25th April 2011 12:04

SuperGen, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUPG), a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel cancer therapies, and Astex Therapeutics Limited, a privately held, U.K.-based biotechnology company developing targeted therapies for oncology and virology, jointly announce today that they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge the two companies, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and shareholder approvals.

The combined entity, to be named Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is expected to create a global leader in innovative oncology drug discovery, development and commercialization with $120 million in cash and cash equivalents forecasted post deal closure. The company plans to leverage a revenue stream from its product Dacogen®, marketed in North America by Eisai and in the rest of the world by Johnson & Johnson. The combined company’s clinical pipeline will include seven drugs in development – four of which are currently in or entering into Phase II clinical trials and three of which are currently partnered with large pharmaceutical companies.

The combined company, which is expected to be listed on NASDAQ under the symbol ASTX, expects to have:

• Top-tier partnerships including current partnerships with GlaxoSmithKline, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and AstraZeneca
• Nearly $2 billion in potential future milestone revenues, plus royalties
• An industry leading drug discovery platform to sustain future value creation 
• Integrated operations based in two of the world’s leading biotech clusters, in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreements, SuperGen plans to purchase Astex Therapeutics Limited, paying Astex shareholders $25 million in cash, plus shares in SuperGen common stock representing 35 percent of the total post closing shares outstanding. Subsequently, SuperGen plans to pay deferred consideration in the amount of $30 million, to be paid in stock or cash at the discretion of the combined entity, over a period of 30 months. The combined entity will assume all outstanding incentive stock options of Astex Therapeutics Limited. Completion of the transaction will be subject to approval by the shareholders of each company, customary closing conditions, and U.S. and U.K. regulatory review and clearance. The proposed transaction is expected to close in July 2011.

Under the new management structure, James S.J. Manuso, chairman, president and chief executive officer of SuperGen Inc., would become chairman and chief executive officer of Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Harren Jhoti, chief executive officer of Astex Therapeutics Limited, would become president and a member of the Board of Directors of the combined entity. The Board of Directors of the combined entity would also include Peter Fellner as vice chairman, Walter Lack, Charles Casamento, Thomas Girardi, Allan Goldberg, Tim Haines and Ismail Kola.

“We believe the combination of SuperGen and Astex accelerates SuperGen’s business model and brings together the people, partnerships, clinical assets, discovery platforms, infrastructures and capital resources to generate significant shareholder value in the years ahead,” said SuperGen’s Manuso. “The outstanding pipeline and highly regarded drug discovery platform of Astex, coupled with the product candidates, development expertise and capital resources of SuperGen, are expected to give rise to a powerful new entity capable of delivering valuable cancer therapies targeting critical medical needs.”

“We believe this merger creates a world class oncology company with a rare profile,” said Astex’s Jhoti. “Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will emerge with an industry leading drug discovery platform that we believe will continue to generate a vibrant and growing R&D pipeline, backed by an established revenue stream and a strong capital foundation. We are very pleased about the synergies of purpose and talents that Astex and SuperGen are bringing together to create what we expect to be one of the world’s foremost oncology discovery and development companies.”

For more information please visit:


Legal advisors to Astex Therapeutics


Corporate partner Kevin Jones commented:

“Having worked with Astex since it launched in 1999 we were well placed to advise on this important deal which supports its future growth and provides liquidity for its shareholders.

“The deal was highly complex, involving a UK scheme of arrangement and drew on our wide-ranging M&A experience and in-depth life sciences expertise.”

Mr Jones can be contacted on +44 (0) 870 730 2823 or by email at

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