breaking news - update 2

CRL to buy Argenta and Biofocus from Galapagos for €134m

CRL to buy Argenta and Biofocus; Galapagos retains Fidelta and adenovirus target discovery tech

Preclinical CRO Charles River Labs has announced plans to buy discovery services firms Argenta and BioFocus from Galapagos NV.

The deal values the two firms at €134m ($187m), €129m of which will be paid upfront with a further €5m later based on the achievement of revenue targets.

According to the US contract research organisation (CRO) the acquisition – which is expected to complete in the second quarter – will see it take control of “all client contracts, order pipeline, premises, equipment, and further obligations of BioFocus and Argenta.”

Belgium-based Galapagos NV bought UK-headquartered Argenta Discovery in 2010 for €16.5m ($23.1m) to create a discovery services “powerhouse“ by combining it with its BioFocus division.

Spokeswoman Elisabeth Goodwin told that Biofocus and Argenta contribute "in vitro drug discovery capabilities to CRL’s in vivo discovery capabilities."

Biofocus and Argent firms employ a staff of 380 scientists at sites in the UK and the Netherlands. CRL said that all employees will be retained.

Fidelta to stay

Galapagos will keep Fidelta, the Croatia-based fee-for-services discovery business and macrolytic chemistry specilist the firm set up in January 2013.

In a conference call Galapagos CEO Onno van de Stolpe said that while Fidelta has made progress in the year since it was set up, the new division is not yet earning for the firm.

van de Stolpe said: “they [Fidelta] are a non-profitable organisation and costing us money not bringing any in.”

This was reiterated by Goodwin who told us that: "Fidelta is just not far enough along in its growth path to be part of this [the CRL] transaction," adding that "Fidelta believes their macrocylic chemistry offers great potential versus some competitors."  

Target discovery to stay too

Galapagos will also keep its target discovery and assay development capabilities for its R&D and alliance operations. After the deal completes the Belgium firm will have three R&D sites - in Mechelen, Belgium, Romainville in France, and Leiden, the Netherlands.

At present Galapagos' target discovery platform - which uses adenovirus to identify druggable targets - is used under license by Biofocus. Speaking at the webcast van de Stolpe said "This license will be transferred to CRL" when the deal completes.

This was confirmed by Goodwin who told us that: "CRL is interested in the target discovery technology, as this adds more differentiation to the total discovery offering. Not many CRO’s offer this service, an no one else can offer target discovery in relevant human primary cells like this."

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