Akebia Therapeutics to merge with Keryx Biopharmaceuticals
Akebia Therapeutics and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals announced that the companies signed, and the boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved, a definitive merger agreement under which the companies will combine in an all-stock merger. The transaction will create a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD), with an implied pro forma equity value of approximately $1.3 billion, assuming full conversion of Keryx’s outstanding convertible notes, based on the closing prices of Keryx and Akebia on June 27, 2018. The combined company will be named Akebia Therapeutics, Inc.
Under the terms of the agreement, Keryx shareholders will receive 0.37433 common shares of Akebia for each share of Keryx they own. The exchange results in implied equity ownership in the combined company of 49.4 percent for Akebia shareholders and 50.6 percent for Keryx shareholders on a fully-diluted basis. John P. Butler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Akebia, is expected to lead the combined company, and Keryx will appoint the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the combined company. Additionally, Jason A. Amello, Akebia’s Chief Financial Officer, is expected to serve in the same capacity on the management team of the combined company.
The Baupost Group, L.L.C., which owns approximately 21.4 percent of the outstanding Keryx common stock prior to any conversion of its convertible notes, has agreed to convert its outstanding convertible notes of Keryx into shares of Keryx common stock prior to closing and has entered into a voting agreement in support of the transaction. Muneer A. Satter, Chairperson of the Akebia Board of Directors and a shareholder who owns approximately 5.3 percent of outstanding Akebia common stock, has also agreed to support the transaction by entering into a voting agreement.
The merger of Akebia and Keryx creates a renal-focused company committed to developing and delivering innovative therapeutic products. Keryx’s Auryxia (ferric citrate) is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medicine to treat dialysis dependent CKD patients for hyperphosphatemia and non-dialysis dependent CKD patients for iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Akebia’s vadadustat is an investigational Phase 3 oral hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (HIF-PHI) with the potential to advance the treatment of patients with anemia due to CKD, many of whom are currently receiving injectable erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs). The companies believe that Auryxia and vadadustat, if FDA-approved, have the potential to deliver an all-oral treatment approach for patients with anemia due to CKD. More broadly, the combined company has the potential to offer therapeutic options to patients across all stages of CKD, including non-dialysis dependent and dialysis dependent patients, and to become a partner of choice for the renal community and for companies developing renal products.
John P. Butler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Akebia, said: “The strategic and financial drivers of this merger are compelling. The combined company will have an expanded and highly complementary nephrology portfolio, with Auryxia, a product with significant growth opportunity, and vadadustat, an investigational late-stage HIF-PHI that has the potential to provide a new oral standard of care to patients with anemia due to CKD. Combining Akebia and Keryx creates a leading renal company and provides it with the infrastructure to maximize the market potential of Auryxia and build launch momentum for vadadustat in the United States, subject to FDA approval. I look forward to leading the talented teams of both Akebia and Keryx as we work to establish new standards of renal care and unlock growth potential for shareholders.”
Jodie Morrison, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Keryx, said: “Bringing Keryx together with Akebia represents a unique, value-enhancing opportunity for stakeholders of both companies. Akebia shareholders gain access to the only oral iron tablet approved in the United States to treat dialysis dependent CKD patients for hyperphosphatemia and non-dialysis dependent CKD patients for iron deficiency anemia. Keryx shareholders gain access to an innovative Phase 3 product candidate with the potential to compete in a complementary multi-billion-dollar market upon successful completion of its development program. Importantly, Keryx shareholders also gain a seasoned executive with decades of experience in the renal field to lead our organization. I look forward to working with our management team during this transition period to continue to deliver on our mission to bring innovative medicines to people living with kidney disease.”
“Akebia and Keryx bring together assets and capabilities that should lead to new business opportunities and substantial realizable synergies,” said Greg Ciongoli, Partner, The Baupost Group. “The combined company will be well positioned for future growth.”