Neon is a biotechnology company developing novel neoantigen-based T cell therapies. Upon closing, it will operate as a subsidiary of BioNTech, a global clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on patient-specific immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. The transaction will combine two organizations with a common culture of pioneering translational science and a shared vision for the future of cancer immunotherapy.
“This acquisition fits with our strategy to expand our capabilities and build our presence in the U.S. and further strengthens our immunotherapy pipeline,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, Co-founder and CEO of BioNTech. “I am particularly excited about the adoptive T cell and neoantigen TCR therapies being developed by Neon, which are complementary to our pipeline and our focus on solid tumors.”
“We are very proud of all we have accomplished since we founded Neon and look forward to joining forces with BioNTech to continue to build a business that provides life-changing immunotherapy products to patients battling a variety of cancers,” said Hugh O’Dowd, Chief Executive Officer of Neon.
Neon has deep expertise in the development of neoantigen therapies, with both vaccine and T-cell capabilities. Neon’s most advanced program is NEO-PTC-01, a personalized neoantigen-targeted T cell therapy candidate consisting of multiple T cell populations targeting the most therapeutically relevant neoantigens from each patient’s tumor. Neon is also advancing a precision T cell therapy program targeting shared neoantigens in genetically defined patient populations. The lead program from this approach, NEO-STC-01, is a T cell therapy candidate targeting shared RAS neoantigens. In addition, Neon has assembled libraries of high-quality TCRs against various shared neoantigens across common HLAs.
Neon’s pipeline is underpinned by its platform technologies including RECON®, its machine-learning bioinformatics platform, and NEO-STIM™, its proprietary process to directly prime, activate and expand neoantigen-targeting T cells ex vivo.
Under the terms of the definitive agreement, Neon will, following consummation of the acquisition, merge with Endor Lights, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of BioNTech and become a wholly-owned subsidiary of BioNTech. At closing, BioNTech will issue, and Neon shareholders will receive 0.063 American Depositary Shares (ADS) (each ADS representing one ordinary share of BioNTech) in exchange for each of their shares of Neon. The exchange ratio implies a deal value of $67 million, or $2.18 per share of Neon, based on the closing price of BioNTech’s ADSs of $34.55 on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.
The transaction was unanimously approved by both BioNTech’s and Neon’s boards of directors. The transaction, which is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020, is subject to approval of Neon’s shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Certain stockholders of Neon owning approximately 36% of the outstanding Neon shares have entered into voting agreements, pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, and subject to the terms and conditions of the agreements, to vote in favor of the Neon acquisition.
Ondra Partners is acting as the exclusive financial advisor to Neon and Goodwin Procter LLP is acting as legal counsel to Neon. Duff & Phelps LLC provided a fairness opinion to Neon’s board of directors in connection with the transaction. Covington & Burling LLP is acting as legal counsel to BioNTech.
BioNTech was founded in 2008 on the understanding that every cancer patient’s tumor is unique and therefore each patient’s treatment should be individualized. Its cutting-edge pipeline includes individualized mRNA-based product candidates, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, novel checkpoint immunomodulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules. BioNTech has established relationships with seven pharmaceutical collaborators, including Eli Lilly and BioNTech, Genmab, Sanofi, Bayer Animal Health, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Genevant and Pfizer, and has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications on its scientific approach.