Ahead of Novartis deal, GlaxoSmithKline scoops up vaccine developer in $190M buyout

Whatever GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) learned about GlycoVaxyn in the two years since they inked a collaboration deal, it must have left the pharma giant feeling confident about the technology. GSK says today that it will scoop up the Swiss biotech, which is working on new vaccines for bacterial infections, for $190 million in cash.

GlycoVaxyn, a spinout from ETH Zurich, attracted GSK in late 2012 with its work on bioconjugate vaccines. The pharma giant included an equity stake in the initial deal and now walks away with full ownership of early-stage vaccines for bacterial infections such as pneumonia, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus aureus and Shigellosis.

The venture-backed company had been supported by Sofinnova Partners, Index Ventures and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners.

The deal comes as GlaxoSmithKline carefully nears completion of a big portfolio swap with Novartis ($NVS), trading its oncology portfolio for vaccines, a field where the global company has a major presence. The buyout also arrives as GlaxoSmithKline undergoes its second big R&D reorganization in 6 years, after a focus on smaller development teams delivered a slate of new approvals, but without the big blockbusters it needs to compensate for generic competition.

Moncef Slaoui

"This is an exciting opportunity to expand our research efforts to develop a new generation of vaccines for common and severe bacterial infections, for many of which there are currently no effective vaccines," says vaccines chief Moncef Slaoui, who recently dropped his title as head of drug R&D to focus on vaccines. "It reinforces our commitment to seek out and invest in great science and complements our proposed transaction with Novartis which will strengthen our leading position in vaccines."

- here's the release