Abcam ends pursuit of £270M Horizon Discovery buyout

Abcam has ended its pursuit of Horizon Discovery one week after going public about its attempt to buy the gene editing specialist. 

Cambridge, U.K.-based Abcam painted its proposed £270 million ($367 million) takeover as a chance for both companies to accelerate their growth and global expansion. Horizon saw things differently, calling Abcam’s offer “highly opportunistic” and rejecting the strategic rationale for the merger. 

Having assessed Horizon’s response and the results it posted this week, Abcam has called time on its pursuit. In explaining why it won’t make an improved offer, Abcam said it always planned to “remain disciplined about value.” 

Horizon’s share price has hovered around the £1.95 mark over the past week, well above Abcam’s original £1.81 bid. That suggested Abcam would need to ramp up its offer to clinch a deal, something it is evidently unwilling to do.

Shares in Horizon fell 17% after Abcam pulled the plug on its takeover plan, bringing it back down toward the price it traded at before news of the possible merger broke.

Horizon’s successful resistance to Abcam’s takeover plan leaves the gene editing company to deliver on its belief it is better off as a standalone business. Responsibility for doing so will fall on Terry Pizzie, who Horizon named as CEO earlier this week. Pizzie is stepping up from the post of head of commercial operations, which he took up when he joined the company last year. 

In working to grow its piece of the gene editing market, Horizon could conceivably run into Abcam. While a takeover of Horizon is off the menu, Abcam could still seek to satisfy its “strong interest in pursuing strategic expansion in the gene editing market” through some other means.