Astellas to buy Ocata Therapeutics

New step forward in ophthalmology and stem cell therapy

Astellas Pharma has agreed to buy Ocata Therapeutics, a US biotechnology company developing regenerative medicines for eye diseases, for about US$379m.

Under the agreement, the Tokyo-based Japanese pharmaceutical company will acquire Ocata through Laurel Acquisition, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the deal.

Laurel will make an offer for all outstanding common stock of Ocata for $8.50 per share in cash. The offer price represents a premium of 79% over the closing share price of $4.75 on 6 November. The tender offer will start no later than 25 November and last for 20 business days.

Formerly known as Advanced Cell Technology, the Marlborough, MA-based Ocata was a stem cell pioneer, developing embryonic stem cells for human therapies.

Astellas said the acquisition represents the coming together of two companies with 'significant accomplishments and a shared commitment to development innovative therapies that address the unmet medical needs of patients suffering from severe ophthalmic diseases'.

The deal will enable Astellas to establish a presence in ophthalmology and a leading position in cell therapy, the firm said.

'We highly value Ocata's R&D capabilities, including its world-leading researchers in cell therapy,' said Yoshihiko Hatanaka, President and CEO of Astellas. 'We are confident we will turn innovative science into value for patients.'

Paul Wotton, President and CEO, Ocata said: 'I am impressed by the vision and commitment of Astellas and believe that with their global resources behind our regenerative platform, patients suffering from debilitating diseases like AMD and SMD will soon benefit from having access to regenerative medicine.'

The completion of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust approvals and the share offer.

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