MicroPort invests in Lombard, lands rights to stent grafts

MicroPort Scientific has invested $15 million in Lombard Medical as part of a deal that gives it rights to stent grafts in China and Brazil. The pact gives Lombard a partner capable of commercializing its Aorfix and Altura stent grafts in key global markets, plus an infusion of capital and component supply pact.

Shanghai, China-based MicroPort has bought $5 million in Lombard common stock—giving it a 29% stake in the company—to secure exclusive regional rights to manufacture and sell the products. MicroPort has invested a further $10 million in Lombard through convertible debt.

In return, Lombard has handed over the rights to its endovascular stent grafts Aorfix and Altura in China and Brazil.

Aorfix is designed to cut the risk of rupture from abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) by creating an internal bypass. Notably, the device is cleared for use in patients with aortic neck angulations up to 90 degrees. Regulators in the U.S., Europe and Japan have approved Aorfix, putting the product at the forefront of Lombard’s attempts to carve out a slice of the AAA market.

Lombard added a second string to its bow last year when it gained another endovascular stent graft in the $50.5 million acquisition of Altura Medical. Altura, the other graft licensed by MicroPort, is designed to treat simpler cases of AAA than Aorfix, but is yet to secure approval outside of Europe.

Striking the deal with MicroPort gives Lombard a way into two new markets, both of which represent sizable sales opportunities but daunting challenges for unpartnered medical device manufacturers.

“The agreements will also provide the infrastructure, regulatory support and capital for launching our technologies into the fast-growing China endovascular market, where MicroPort has a strong track record for commercializing innovative vascular devices,” Lombard CEO Simon Hubbert said in a statement.

As well as making the investment and taking responsibility for the Aorfix and Altura in China and Brazil, MicroPort has agreed to supply stent graft components from its Shanghai plants for use by Lombard in other markets. The supply agreement, while less immediately head turning than the investment and licensing deals, is seen by Lombard as important to its operation.

“We believe our planned component manufacturing collaboration will significantly reduce manufacturing costs and increase margins for both Aorfix and Altura product lines, which will ultimately improve our overall profitability,” Hubbert said.