Novartis nixes another $600M buyout deal for Gamida Cell

Novartis ($NVS) won't be pulling the trigger on a $600 million buyout deal for Israel's Gamida Cell after all. Elbit Imaging, the majority owner of a minority stakeholder in the stem cell player, says that the pharma giant has decided not to pursue its option on the company, but has signaled its willingness to push ahead with their collaboration.

Last summer, parent company Elbit Imaging ($EMITF) announced that Novartis had paid $35 million to nab a 15% stake in Gamida Cell. But today Elbit noted that despite hitting the milestones outlined in the deal, Novartis was taking a pass on an option that would have called for a $165 million upfront cash payment and $435 million in milestones.

This is the second time that Novartis has reportedly backed out on a buyout deal. The first deal, also for up to $600 million, fell through a year ago. Then Novartis came back for the minority stake and the option.

Gamida Cell represented part of the limited drive that Novartis was making into the growing Israeli biotech scene. The biotech has been developing NiCord, a stem cell product now in a Phase I/II study for patients with hematological malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma.

- here's the release