VenBio has criticized the timing and terms of Immunomedics’ licensing deal with Seattle Genetics. The investment fund has accused Immunomedics of rushing through a “poorly constructed deal” to sway shareholder opinion ahead of the upcoming fight for control of the biotech’s board.
Immunomedics is set to pocket $250 million upfront and up to $2 billion in total in exchange for the rights to IMMU-132, a solid tumor antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) that is closing in on a filing for FDA approval in triple-negative breast cancer. The Immunomedics management team hailed the deal as validation of their efforts and the company’s share price rose 22%. But venBio, which has bought a 9.9% stake in Immunomedics and is agitating for change, is unimpressed.
“[The deal announcement] is a blatant and shameful maneuver by the current board and management to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming annual meeting and entrench themselves at the expense of stockholders’ best interests, and venBio is exploring all options to hold them accountable,” venBio Managing Partner Behzad Aghazadeh said in a statement.
Aghazadeh went on to criticize Immunomedics over the timing of the deal, which was unveiled days before the annual meeting where venBio was due to learn whether shareholders support its board candidates. Immunomedics has postponed the annual meeting from February 16 to March 3. As Aghazadeh sees it, claims the timing of the agreement is coincidental are “preposterous and clearly disingenuous.”
VenBio goes on to lay into what it calls a “seemingly poor deal”, singling out the $4.90 a share price at which Seattle Genetics can buy Immunomedics’ stock and the “absurd shortness” of the period in which rival bidders can best the $2 billion deal for criticism. Immunomedics has given other companies until February 19 to better Seattle Genetics’ offer, a time frame venBio thinks will discourage potential rival bidders.