Perspective

Roche completes acquisition of Spark

Spark Therapeutics has accepted a tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock at a price of $114.50 per share, allowing Roche to complete its acquisition of the company, according to a press release.

The deal, which was announced in February 2019, cleared all regulatory hurdles Monday when it was approved by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

“We are excited about this important milestone because we believe that together, Roche and Spark will be able to significantly improve the lives of patients through innovative gene therapies,” Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in a press release. “This acquisition supports our long-lasting commitment to bringing transformational therapies and innovative approaches to people around the world with serious diseases.”

All shares of Spark not owned by the company, Roche or Roche’s wholly owned subsidiaries will be converted into the right to receive the same cash consideration per share under the terms of the acquisition, the release said.

Spark is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche, and its shares will no longer be traded on the Nasdaq stock market. Spark will continue to operate in Philadelphia.

“Today ushers in a new and promising era in the development of genetic medicines for patients and families living with inherited diseases and beyond,” Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, co-founder and CEO of Spark Therapeutics, said in a release. “Spark and Roche share an ethos of imagining the unimaginable. Together, we have the potential to change the future of medicine and deliver the medicines of tomorrow today. We couldn’t be more thrilled about what’s next.”

Spark Therapeutics has accepted a tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock at a price of $114.50 per share, allowing Roche to complete its acquisition of the company, according to a press release.

The deal, which was announced in February 2019, cleared all regulatory hurdles Monday when it was approved by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

“We are excited about this important milestone because we believe that together, Roche and Spark will be able to significantly improve the lives of patients through innovative gene therapies,” Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in a press release. “This acquisition supports our long-lasting commitment to bringing transformational therapies and innovative approaches to people around the world with serious diseases.”

All shares of Spark not owned by the company, Roche or Roche’s wholly owned subsidiaries will be converted into the right to receive the same cash consideration per share under the terms of the acquisition, the release said.

Spark is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche, and its shares will no longer be traded on the Nasdaq stock market. Spark will continue to operate in Philadelphia.

“Today ushers in a new and promising era in the development of genetic medicines for patients and families living with inherited diseases and beyond,” Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, co-founder and CEO of Spark Therapeutics, said in a release. “Spark and Roche share an ethos of imagining the unimaginable. Together, we have the potential to change the future of medicine and deliver the medicines of tomorrow today. We couldn’t be more thrilled about what’s next.”

    Perspective
    Pravin U. Dugel

    Pravin U. Dugel

    Although I will herein confine my comments to just the ophthalmology asset, Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), it is important to remember that Spark also has hemophilia assets, which, I am sure, Roche regards as equally, or even more, valuable. Spark, by having the first ophthalmic gene therapy agent to earn FDA approval, has opened a new therapeutic dimension. To achieve such a task requires great strategy and execution but, most importantly, superlative science. The most exciting aspect of this acquisition is the infusion of capital and resources Spark will have to expand its other development programs. I expect the commercialization of Luxturna in the U.S. to be championed by the Roche/Genentech platform, which will have additional drugs soon, such as faricimab. (Interestingly, Novartis has the outside U.S. commercialization license for Luxturna.) This means that Spark can now focus on what it does best: science.

    The caveat to the success of this acquisition, in my opinion, is the ability of Roche to show restraint and allow Spark to remain independent and creative. This is a huge challenge for any multinational conglomerate that is accustomed to enforcing its “culture.” If that happens, the value of Spark will be greatly diminished. Roche has done a fairly good job of allowing Genentech to function independently and continue to succeed. Therefore, I am confident that Roche understands the value of allowing Spark to remain autonomous but making it stronger.

    • Pravin U. Dugel, MD
    • OSN Retina/Vitreous Board Member

    Disclosures: Dugel reports he is a consultant to Regenxbio, Novartis, Alcon, Spark and Genentech/Roche.