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Readiness for a licensing deal? Opportune time to direct your focus during uncertain times

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Let’s look at our current situation from a half glass full kind of perspective. Without the possibility to travel and less meetings due to the current COVID-19 virus outbreak, we’re sure that your days look rather different than usual. Time at home and more time at your workstation should at least mean more quality time for focused work. So, let’s ensure we leverage this to strengthen the company position. These uncertain times will pass and for the companies not having utilized this period well will likely be left behind.

For all life science companies that do not have to weather the storm ‘out there’, in terms of managing sales decline or raising capital for example but instead are faced with external projects halted. This is an opportune moment to get your head down and focus on increasing your readiness levels for a potential partnering or licensing deal. We have put together a list of essentials in your licensing-package and outreach activities, because striking a deal doesn’t happen overnight or by pure luck.

First off, your asset must provide a value.

Importantly, you need to be able to succinctly articulate the value tailored to the potential licensee. Ensure that proof of how you have developed the asset is included in this. This is one of the steps in setting your sharp out-licensing strategy and building your action plan, but more on that further down.

Ace the digital interaction to get an edge

First impression is everything. Even more so important in a digital space. Before you start contacting potential partners or licensees you need to have done your homework, both in preparing your pitch but also understanding what the counterpart is in the market for. The better prepared you are, the higher the chances to better position yourself for a next meeting and later, hopefully, in negotiations.

It’s not only due to the COVID-19 outbreak that the world is turning more digital and virtual. Increasing environmental pressure, especially on business travel also plays a part. That is only one reason of why it will pay off acing digital interactions and tailoring your materials for a digital medium. No time like the present to start with outreach to potential licensees when many sits isolated and deprived of the normal ‘water cooler’ social interaction and are likely glad for the interruption.

Key consideration for an impactful licensing strategy

We have helped many biotech companies in the Nordics to develop their licensing strategy over the years. We usually start the project asking the client to consider the following areas:

  • How involved will you be in the continued development? There are several options and it will depend upon who you out-license the asset to and what your internal resources are and your long-term strategy.
  • What kind of deal type would best suit your company and assets? You need to understand your indication in detail. This includes, but is not limited to, the market, competition and other deals struck in the indication for benchmark purposes. This then informs the decision on what an ideal deal structure looks like for you; options include co-development to letting the licensee take the full responsibility as well as you keeping certain rights or a solely exclusive deal.
  • Who would the ideal partner be? Many clients only look at big pharma and larger biotech’s, but they may not always be the best partners. It’s important that you have define what your ideal partner would look like; key considerations should be what skills are you looking for, what other in-licensing deals has this company done before, how skillful are they in bringing products to the market, how attractive is the company for investors and also as an employer. Hopefully, you will end up in a situation where you negotiate with more than one potential partner or licensee. It’s then important that you also can do a proper due diligence to assess and define the scientific and commercial viability of each potential strategic partner.
  • When is the asset ready to be out-licensed? There are trends regarding the ideal timing of the out-licensing. Irrespective, it needs to align with the company’s overall business strategy. But you should consider several things such as the indication you are aiming for and what type of assets is it. It also depends on the quality and perceived value of the assets and how ‘well prepared’ the company is to hand off the assets. At this time, it’s important to have done your own asset valuation to understand how the value would change if you keep developing your assets yourself compared to out-licensing it at different stages. Doing a comprehensive valuation on the assets will also help when negotiating the deals structure and value.

If we at this point have identified a few areas where more work is needed to be able to take a decision on one of these key questions – now’s the time to look into it.

“We’d argue that it’s never too early to start working on your out-licensing action plan. Working towards a clear goal provides motivation for team, Board and shareholders.”

– Okee Williams, Sr Management Consultant and former VC, analyst and IR manager.

Develop your out-licensing action plan

With a set strategy that’ll guide your activities completed, next steps are to develop your action plan. Depending on the project, we play different roles at this stage but most often we’re the objective lynch pin pulling it all together.

  • Who should be involved in the project team? It is not a one man show, many parts of your organization need to be involved to ensure that we’re bringing our competitive edge to the table.
  • What kind of material is needed? Having the right communication materials that immediately speaks to the recipient is crucial. Sloppy or unfished presentations scare away potential licensees but great material leaving the recipient wanting more has the opposite effect. At minimum, we recommend having in place:
    • Face-to-face (whether online or in-person): Confidential prospectus and company presentation
    • Send outs: Non-confidential, short, company presentation
    • Online presence: Update homepage to align with your material
  • What should be included in the due diligence material? Start structure and assemble material for the upcoming due diligence. Also, prepare with setting up a data room with functionality to time limit and restrict access to keep leverage on your side. Examples of information that should be included are:
    • Preclinical data, safety results and regulatory material
    • Clinical studies and plans
    • Publications
  • Are your legal documents up to date? You should have confidentiality agreements (CDAs) prepared, in an easy to update template format, to be able to quickly respond to interest. Based on your ideal deal structure outlined in the licensing strategy, you should have a Term Sheet and other associated document already drafted.

Following these steps, you would be well positioned to start outreach to your targeted list of contacts. A targeted contact list is most likely to bring fruitful results if curated and identified based on criteria aligned with the strategy.

There’s of course only so much time in a day, even if you’re following social distancing, self-isolation or are quarantined. So, if we can help you get ahead with a competitive edge over the next few months, get in touch.

We have experience in providing support in all steps from taking the lead in strategy development, doing an asset valuation and developing marketing materials. Our team can also be helpful in identifying potential partners or licensees, providing direct contact details and targeted emails, alternatively support you in managing the outreach and keeping the leads warm. But also, simply provide guidance on the right timing of an ideal out-licensing.

2018 M&A activity in life science Scandinavia

By | Business Development, Valuation, What's the deal | No Comments

During 2018, 12 life science mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals took place in Scandinavia for a total value of $11.5 billion. After a year with several inbound and outbound deals, we can conclude that Scandinavian life science companies beyond doubt are becoming more and more established in the world. But in which areas and within which fields are these deals taking place? To answer this question, we took a deep dive into the 2018 M&A activities of the Scandinavian life science industry!

Life science is a broad field, where companies can be divided into four different subsectors that include biotech, pharma, medtech and healthtech (see Figure 1). The biotech sector is the largest of them (total of 58%) and is in turn divided into four subsectors. Given the market size, it is unsurprisingly also the sector with most M&A deals. Following this is the medtech sector, which makes up almost one-third of the life science industry (29%) and bore the largest valued M&A deal in 2018.

In total, the Scandinavian life science industry comprises more than 1,330 companies (see Figure 2), where most companies are located in Sweden (65%), followed by Denmark (20%) and then Norway (15%). Due to the innovativeness and quality products/services developed in this region, these companies represent potential opportunities for M&A deals in the life science Industry.

Note: This is an analysis of selected M&A or asset acquisition deals with publicly disclosed deal values. Deals with undisclosed values have not been included.

Sweden

Sweden is Scandinavia’s largest country in terms of landmass, population and number of life science companies. Only in 2018, Swedish companies spent about $492.4 million (see Table 1) on the acquisition of other companies or assets, where 96% was spent in international companies or assets and 4% remained within national boundaries. In terms of inbound deals, only two Swedish companies were acquired. The total sum of these acquisitions amounted to $860.6 million, where the majority stems from the American company Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition of Wilson Therapeutics for $855 million.

Swedish M&A in 2018

Acquirer Acquired Assets/services involved Total deal value
Biotage (Sweden)* Horizon Technology (US) Provider of systems and consumables for separation in water purification, food safety, petrochemical industry, biofuels, agriculture and the pharma industry $17.9 million
AddLife (Sweden) Wellspect HealthCare (Sweden) Business in surgery and respiration $20 million (€18 million)
Biotage (Sweden) PhyNexus (US) Dual flow chromatography and patented tip technology for higher throughoutput purification $21.5 million
Recipharm (Sweden) Sanofi (France) Manufacturing center and business in respiratory diseases $58 million (GPB 45 million)
Recipharm (Sweden) Nitin Lifesciences (India) Pharma company with strong presence in injectable manufacturing $86 million (824 million SEK)
Karo Pharma (Sweden) Leo Pharma (Denmark) Product portfolio in infection, cardiovascular and dermatology $289 million (€260 million)
Ultimovacs (Norway) Immuneed (Sweden) Immunotherapy technology business $5.8 million (50.4 million NOK)
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (U.S.) Wilson Therapeutics (Sweden) Novel therapies in rare copper-mediated disorders, including WTX101 product $855 million (7.1 billion SEK)

 

Denmark

Denmark (Greenland exempted) is a small country with a high density of life science companies. From the selected deals in 2018, Danish companies spent about $1.8 billion in the acquisition of other European companies or assets. In terms of inbound deals, three Danish companies were acquired for a combined value of a hefty $8.6 billion. The deal between Widex and Sivantos alone was valued at $8.3 billion and is considered the largest M&A deal in Scandinavia during 2018.

Danish M&A in 2018

Acquirer Acquired Assets/services involved Deal value
Novo Nordisk (Denmark) Ziylo (UK) Science incubator (including glucose binding molecule platform) $800 million
Lundbeck (Denmark) Prexton Therapeutics (Netherlands) Foliglurax in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease $1 billion (€905 million):
Virtus (Australia) Triangeln Fertility Clinic/ Fertilitetsklinikken Trianglen (Denmark) Treatment of fertility $30 million (202 million DKK)
Karo Pharma (Sweden) Leo Pharma (Denmark) Product portfolio in infection, cardiovascular and dermatology $289 million (€260 million)
Sivantos Group (Germany)* Widex (Denmark) Hearing aids $8.3 billion (€7 billion)

Norway

Norway has the highest GDP per capita and is known for its innovativeness and openness to new technologies. As an example, Norway was the first Scandinavian country to approve a CAR T-cell therapy (gene therapy): Luxturna. In 2018, only one acquisition deal with disclosed values was identified. This deal was Ultimovacs’ acquisition of the immunotherapy technology business Immuneed for $5.8 million.

Norwegian M&A in 2018

Acquirer Acquired Assets/services involved Deal value
Ultimovacs (Norway) Immuneed (Sweden) Immunotherapy technology business $5.8 million (50.4 million NOK)

Concluding thoughts on an increasingly stronger life science field

The M&A and asset acquisition scene of Scandinavian life science companies is on fire with several large cross-border deals taking place in 2018. Acquisitions performed by American, Australian and European companies strongly signal Scandinavian companies’ international reach. Nevertheless, there were more outbound than inbound deals involving Swedish companies suggesting that Swedish companies may often both be financially healthy, and business savvy, to expand their operations and presence internationally. Denmark, on the other hand, is home to the big and internationally established companies such as Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck. Therefore, it is not surprising that these companies performed high-value deals with other European countries. Furthermore, a major oncology cluster is located in Norway and this means that over the next couple of years, we may continue to see inbound and outbound oncology-related M&A deals in this country.

Companies in Sweden are often both financially healthy, and business savvy, enough to expand their operations and presence internationally.

Based on the high concentration of life science companies located in Scandinavia, we may continue to see an increasing number of M&A deals in these sectors. Although the majority of acquisition deals belonged to biotech companies, especially those developing therapeutics, the highest valued M&A deal in 2018 took place between the two medtech companies Sivanto and Widex. Medtech companies have a shorter time to market and when these companies reach the market and become established in the market, the acquisition value increases. Thus, this is a perfect example of how more mature innovative companies are valued higher in an M&A, whereas high risk early stage companies, such as those developing therapeutics, are valued slightly lower in upfront payments, and oftentimes include milestone payments and/or potential royalties to leverage risk and compensate for their high valuation.

Finally, the healthtech sector is still in an embryonic stage and it is just starting to blossom. For example, the company Tunstall Healthcare acquired Danish company EWii Telecare for connected healthcare products and tele-medical solutions for various patient groups. This sector should not be underestimated since the whole field is moving more towards personalized and connected healthcare. Therefore, it will not be a surprise if the number of deals in this sector increases in the upcoming years.

By: Paola Jo, Management Consultant