Tekturna developer accepts $980M acquisition offer from Novartis

Novartis has purchased an additional 51.7 percent stake in Speedel Holding and plans to acquire the remaining shares in the blood pressure drug, Tekturna, eveloper through a public tender offer of approximately $980 million.

The Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis has collaborated with Speedel, especially its cardiovascular disease R&D pipeline. The full acquisition of Speedel, excluding the 9.7% stake held by Novartis before these transactions, is expected to cost CHF 907 million (or about $880 million USD).

On Monday, Speedel’s board of directors decided to register all shares acquired by Novartis on July 9. The board said it “is welcoming Novartis and will be cooperating fully with the new majority shareholder.”

The board has accepted the resignation offered by Alice Huxley, MD, CEO of Speedel, with immediate effect. Huxley will remain available to the company on an as-needed basis until the end of 2008, but will immediately resign from boar, according the Basel, Switzerland-based Speedel. The board also has taken notice of the resignation with immediate effect of its members Ralf Rosenow and Marius Sutter, MD. 

The companies have agreed to meet Aug. 14 in Basel to decide on the new appointments to the Speedel’s board.

“With the integration of Speedel into Novartis, we can accelerate development of Tekturna/Rasilez, particularly in combination with other medicines, and further advance Speedel's pipeline of novel compounds,” said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis Pharma.

In 1998, Novartis provided funding for Speedel and rights to early-stage development of Tekturna/Rasilez (aliskiren). The rights were reacquired in 2002, and Novartis conducted out Phase III trials that led to U.S. and European approvals in 2007, the first new type of direct renin inhibitors to enter those markets in more than a decade.

Novartis said that Speedel’s pipeline targets hypertension and builds on the promise of direct renin inhibitors seen with Tekturna/Rasilez. Follow-on direct renin inhibitor projects include SPP635 (Phase II) as well as SPP1148 and SPP676 (Phase I). Other projects include SPP2745, a preclinical compound in the aldosterone synthase inhibitor class being investigated for potential benefits in treating patients with various cardiovascular diseases, according to the company.