Spying a devilish deal, AstraZeneca pays 666% premium to buy genomic medicine biotech

AstraZeneca has identified a shortcut to prominence in the genomic medicine space. Working through its Alexion rare disease unit, the Big Pharma has struck a deal to snap up struggling LogicBio Therapeutics to secure technology platforms and expertise in their use. 

LogicBio has endured a tough 12 months, in which news of a clinical hold has combined with the broader biotech bear market to drag its stock down by 94% to 27 cents. While the FDA later lifted the clinical hold, the effect on the stock stuck. And, with the biotech’s cash reserves expected to run dry in the second quarter of 2023, that presented management with a problem.

The rock-bottom share price caught the attention of AstraZeneca’s Alexion, which has identified genomic medicine as a growth area for its rare disease business. Alexion has agreed to buy LogicBio for $2.07 per share, a 666% premium over the closing price yesterday but a steal by historical standards. 

In its statement to disclose the deal, which is expected to close in four to six weeks, Alexion focused on the ability of LogicBio to develop genomic medicines rather than its existing programs. The rare disease specialist highlighted LogicBio’s technology platforms for the delivery and insertion of genes, viral vector manufacturing platform and team. But the AstraZeneca unit made no mention of LogicBio's lead candidate LB-001 or other programs.

Alexion plans to keep hold of LogicBio’s employees at their current location and has already reached an agreement to retain senior management. Frederic Chereau, Matthias Hebben, Ph.D., and Mariana Nacht, Ph.D., respectively the CEO, head of technology and chief scientific officer of LogicBio, have accepted offers from Alexion that feature retention bonuses. 

The deal follows the identification of genomic medicine as an area in which AstraZeneca’s capabilities can benefit Alexion. By combining their capabilities, Alexion and AstraZeneca have embarked (PDF) on three genomic medicine projects involving gene therapy, antisense oligonucleotides and gene editing. The LogicBio deal adds an adeno-associated virus capsid engineering platform to the mix.