Billionaire's fund pitches immunotherapy merger for Stallergenes

An investment fund backed by the megarich family that founded Serono has proposed merging Stallergenes (EPA:GENP) and Greer. The fund is well placed to make such a deal happen: It has a 77.3% stake in Stallergenes and owns Greer outright.

Merging the pair would give Ares Life Sciences an 86% stake in a transatlantic allergy immunotherapy player, Reuters reports. Paris, France-based Stallergenes has built a portfolio that pulls in €250 million ($277 million) a year and a pipeline of drugs that put it on a collision course with Circassia (LON:CIR) and deep-pocketed Merck ($MRK). All three are targeting the allergy market, with Stallergenes showing a particular interest in desensitizing people to grass, house dust mites and other allergens.

Ares Life Sciences' merger plan could give Stallergenes the global clout it needs to take on the likes of Merck. Stallergenes already works with Greer--which bagged U.S. rights to the French biopharma's grass allergy immunotherapy in 2013--and sees value in cementing the relationship. "Ares Life Sciences' proposal gives us a tremendous opportunity … [and] would enable us to take advantage of Greer's leadership position in the U.S.," Stallergenes CEO Christian Chavy said in a statement.

The board of Stallergenes has agreed to consider the proposal. Lenoir, NC-based Greer is already on board as it is fully owned by Ares Life Sciences, a European investor set up in 2008 with the backing of the Bertarelli family. The Bertarellis are European life science royalty. Pietro Bertarelli founded Serono in 1906. When his descendants sold the company to Merck KGaA in 2007, they received an estimated $9 billion, helping to push the family up Forbes' rich list. Their collective wealth was last estimated at $14.8 billion.

- here's the release
- read Reuters' article