Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ASTX) Becomes the Latest Biotech Domino to Fall

Another domino has fallen in the world of biotech.

Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX) is being scooped up by Tokyo-based Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. Otsuka announced on Thursday that it plans to buy Astex for $866 million, which represents an offering of $8.50 per share.
Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX)

Dissecting the deal
This looks to be a pretty good deal for Otsuka. The Japanese drugmaker and its partner Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) lose patent protection for antidepressant drug Abilify in 2015. With a big drop-off in revenue on the horizon, it made sense for Otsuka to find a smaller company to acquire that could help bolster its drug pipeline.

Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX) brings some revenue to the table with Dacogen, its drug used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS. Sales for Dacogen totaled more than $250 million in the 12-month period ending in July. However, with a generic threat now on the market in the U.S., Astex looked to its partnership with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) for international sales growth to help overcome expected revenue loss in the states.

Otsuka isn’t buying Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX) only for Dacogen, though. The larger pharmaceutical company public comments focused more on gaining access to Astex’s Pyramid fragment-based drug discovery technology than anything else. Astex counts several drugs in development based on this technology.

If you only looked at Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX)’s Wednesday close price of $8.27 per share, you might think Otsuka’s $8.50 per share offer wasn’t a very good deal for Astex. However, the stock has seen big gains over the last couple of weeks as many investors anticipated that Astex could be up for sale. Otsuka’s price tag reflects a 48% premium over the average trading price for Astex over the last month.

Some Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX) shareholders won’t be happy, though. Gene Mack with Brean Capital thinks Otsuka’s offer is too low. He estimates that Astex should fetch closer to $13 per share because of Dacogen’s strength and the potential of experimental acute myeloid leukemia drug SGI-110.

Falling better than standing
If everything goes as planned, Astex will become the third biotech to be bought by a larger company in the last month. Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) entertained observers throughout much of the summer with multiple twists in their potential deal. That drama ended last week with Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN)’s $10.4 billion acquisition of Onyx. AstraZeneca also picked up privately held Amplimmune last week in a $500 million deal.