Swiss healthcare company Roche Holding (OTC: RHHBY) and gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ONCE) announced on Tuesday another extension of Roche’s USD 4.3 Billion buyout offer for Spark.
Various delays have pushed back the merger agreement five times as U.S. and U.K. anti-trust regulators evaluate the transaction. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission began its usual assessment soon after the deal was announced in February, but oddly made repeated requests for more information. In June the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority launched their own probe as well.
Roche’s initial offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Spark for USD 114.50 per share was expected to close in Q2 of 2019.
Roche’s latest offer, set to expire on September 3, has been extended until October 1. In Tuesday’s statement, the Companies said, “The Offer was extended to provide additional time for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) to complete their previously disclosed reviews of Roche’s pending acquisition of Spark. The parties remain committed to the transaction and are working cooperatively and expeditiously with the FTC and the CMA.” To allow for even more wiggle room, both companies also have the right to extend the agreement until April 2020.
Spark Therapeutics focuses mainly on the discovery and development of gene therapies for genetic disorders, including blindness, hemophilia, and neurodegenerative conditions. Roche, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, develops medicines in oncology, infectious diseases and diseases of the central nervous system.