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Swiss drug maker Roche entered into a definitive agreement Monday to acquire Philadelphia gene therapy pioneer Spark Therapeutics in an all-cash deal valued at $4.8 billion.
The proposed deal is expected to close during the second quarter. It doesn’t mean Spark is leaving the city — where it has made its home since 2013 and recently announced plans to expand.
Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both company’s boards but still requires regulatory and shareholder approval, Spark will continue its operations in Philadelphia as an independent company within the Roche Group.
The deal calls for Roche to pay Spark stockholders $114.50 per share, which represents a premium of 122 percent over Spark’s Feb. 22 closing price.
A Spark spokeswoman said the company, which has about 370 employees, is not making executives available to comment on the proposed merger at this time because it is still early in the transaction process.
In a statement, Spark co-founder and CEO Jeffrey D. Marrazzo said Spark has built “unmatched competencies in the discovery, development and delivery” of genetic medicines. “But the needs of patients and families living with genetic diseases are immediate and vast. With its worldwide reach and extensive resources, Roche will help us accelerate the development of more gene therapies for more patients for more diseases and further expedite our vision of a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.”
Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, said Spark has proven expertise “in the entire gene therapy value chain” and its technology may offer important new ways to treat serious diseases. “In particular,” Schwan said, “Spark’s hemophilia A program could become a new therapeutic option for people living with this disease. We are also excited to continue the investments in Spark’s broad product portfolio and commitment to Philadelphia as a center of excellence.”