AGC Offers for Italian Biotech

19.03.2020 -

Japan’s AGC (formerly Asahi Glass Chemical) has launched a voluntary tender offer to buy Italian clinical-stage biotech Molecular Medicine, known as Molmed.

Molmed focuses on research, development, manufacturing and clinical validation of gene & cell therapies, offering GMP services for third parties that include leading European and US companies. Based in Milan, the company employs about 220 staff and had revenues of €36.3 million in 2019. It was founded in 1996 as an academic spinoff from the San Raffaele Scientific Institute.

The biotech is currently developing a new therapeutic platform based on Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR), both autologous and allogeneic. Its most advanced product, CAR-T CD44Vv6, was authorized in March 2019 to start human clinical trials in acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma. Molmed said the product is also potentially effective in several epithelial solid tumors.

In addition, the company is developing a pipeline based on natural killer cells, following a research agreement signed in 2018 with Dutch biopharma Glycostem Therapeutics.

AGC’s offer is subject to certain conditions, including acceptance by no less than 66.7% of Molmed’s entire share capital. Molmed’s largest shareholder, Fininvest – an Italian holding company controlled by the Berlusconi family – has agreed to tender all of its 23.13% shareholding to the Japanese group.

According to AGC, there are approximately 1,000 clinical trials underway worldwide on gene- and cell-therapy based treatments, and the market is expected to grow rapidly. The Tokyo-headquartered firm said Molmed has particular strength in vectors and cells manufacturing.

AGC has committed to position its life-sciences related business, including biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing, as one of its strategic initiatives and is aiming to achieve sales of above 100 billion yen by 2025.

The company noted that in the gene & cell therapy field there is a strong imbalance between the demand and supply of specific skills and global production capacity.