SuperGen and Astex Therapeutics Enter Definitive Merger Agreement Creating a Financially Strong, International Oncology Company

DUBLIN, Calif. & CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SuperGen, Inc. (NASDAQ:SUPG), a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel cancer therapies, and Astex Therapeutics Limited, a privately held, U.K.-based biotechnology company developing targeted therapies for oncology and virology, jointly announce today that they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge the two companies, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and shareholder approvals.

The combined entity, to be named Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is expected to create a global leader in innovative oncology drug discovery, development and commercialization with $120 million in cash and cash equivalents forecasted post deal closure. The company plans to leverage a revenue stream from its product Dacogen®, marketed in North America by Eisai and in the rest of the world by Johnson & Johnson. The combined company's clinical pipeline will include seven drugs in development - four of which are currently in or entering into Phase II clinical trials and three of which are currently partnered with large pharmaceutical companies.

The combined company, which is expected to be listed on NASDAQ under the symbol ASTX, expects to have:

  • Top-tier partnerships including current partnerships with GlaxoSmithKline, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and AstraZeneca
  • Nearly $2 billion in potential future milestone revenues, plus royalties
  • An industry leading drug discovery platform to sustain future value creation
  • Integrated operations based in two of the world's leading biotech clusters, in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreements, SuperGen plans to purchase Astex Therapeutics Limited, paying Astex shareholders $25 million in cash, plus shares in SuperGen common stock representing 35 percent of the total post closing shares outstanding. Subsequently, SuperGen plans to pay deferred consideration in the amount of $30 million, to be paid in stock or cash at the discretion of the combined entity, over a period of 30 months. The combined entity will assume all outstanding incentive stock options of Astex Therapeutics Limited. Completion of the transaction will be subject to approval by the shareholders of each company, customary closing conditions, and U.S. and U.K. regulatory review and clearance. The proposed transaction is expected to close in July 2011.

Under the new management structure, James S.J. Manuso, chairman, president and chief executive officer of SuperGen Inc., would become chairman and chief executive officer of Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Harren Jhoti, chief executive officer of Astex Therapeutics Limited, would become president and a member of the Board of Directors of the combined entity. The Board of Directors of the combined entity would also include Peter Fellner as vice chairman, Walter Lack, Charles Casamento, Thomas Girardi, Allan Goldberg, Tim Haines and Ismail Kola.

"We believe the combination of SuperGen and Astex accelerates SuperGen's business model and brings together the people, partnerships, clinical assets, discovery platforms, infrastructures and capital resources to generate significant shareholder value in the years ahead," said SuperGen's Manuso. "The outstanding pipeline and highly regarded drug discovery platform of Astex, coupled with the product candidates, development expertise and capital resources of SuperGen, are expected to give rise to a powerful new entity capable of delivering valuable cancer therapies targeting critical medical needs."

"We believe this merger creates a world class oncology company with a rare profile," said Astex's Jhoti. "Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will emerge with an industry leading drug discovery platform that we believe will continue to generate a vibrant and growing R&D pipeline, backed by an established revenue stream and a strong capital foundation. We are very pleased about the synergies of purpose and talents that Astex and SuperGen are bringing together to create what we expect to be one of the world's foremost oncology discovery and development companies."

Management from SuperGen and Astex will host a conference call to discuss the proposed merger tomorrow, April 7th at 8:00 am EST / 1:00 pm BST. A live webcast of the conference call and presentation materials are accessible on a new website, or in the investor relations section of the SuperGen or Astex Therapeutics websites at and A webcast replay of the conference call will be available for 90 days.

On April 12th SuperGen and Astex will discuss in depth their respective pipelines and discovery operations at a joint Investor and Analyst Day in New York. Information about the live and archived webcast of these presentations will be available through the above mentioned websites.

About SuperGen

SuperGen is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel cancer therapeutics in epigenetic and cell signaling modulation. SuperGen develops products through biochemical and clinical proof of concept to partner for further development and commercialization.

In addition to internal discovery programs, SuperGen has two drugs advancing in the clinic and a discovery collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline focused on epigenetic targets.

For more information about SuperGen, please visit

About Astex Therapeutics

Astex is a UK-based biotechnology company that discovers and develops novel small molecule therapeutics. Using its pioneering fragment-based drug discovery platform, PyramidTM, Astex has built a pipeline of molecularly-targeted oncology drugs, of which three are currently being tested in clinical trials with others in discovery and pre-clinical development.

In addition to its proprietary research programs, Astex's productivity in lead discovery has been endorsed through numerous partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis.

For further information on Astex, please visit the company's website at