BioNTech to acquire Neon to strengthen global leadership position in T cell therapies

  • Further expands BioNTech’s growing CAR-T and TCR therapy pipeline through addition of neoantigen specific cell therapies, including a T cell therapy targeting shared RAS oncogenes
  • Accelerates BioNTech’s global expansion by creating a U.S. hub for research and clinical development
  • Creates long-term value for BioNTech and Neon shareholders by combining capabilities, IP and synergistic pipeline programs
  • Transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2020

MAINZ, Germany and CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA I January 16, 2020 I BioNTech (Nasdaq: BNTX, “BioNTech”) and Neon Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGN, “Neon”) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which BioNTech will acquire Neon in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $67.0 million. Neon is a biotechnology company developing novel neoantigen-based T cell therapies. Upon closing, it will operate as a subsidiary of BioNTech, a global clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on patient-specific immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. The transaction will combine two organizations with a common culture of pioneering translational science and a shared vision for the future of cancer immunotherapy.

This acquisition fits with our strategy to expand our capabilities and build our presence in the U.S. and further strengthens our immunotherapy pipeline,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, Co-founder and CEO of BioNTech. “I am particularly excited about the adoptive T cell and neoantigen TCR therapies being developed by Neon, which are complementary to our pipeline and our focus on solid tumors.”

We are very proud of all we have accomplished since we founded Neon and look forward to joining forces with BioNTech to continue to build a business that provides life-changing immunotherapy products to patients battling a variety of cancers,” said Hugh O’Dowd, Chief Executive Officer of Neon.

Neon has deep expertise in the development of neoantigen therapies, with both vaccine and T-cell capabilities. Neon’s most advanced program is NEO-PTC-01, a personalized neoantigen-targeted T cell therapy candidate consisting of multiple T cell populations targeting the most therapeutically relevant neoantigens from each patient’s tumor. Neon is also advancing a precision T cell therapy program targeting shared neoantigens in genetically defined patient populations. The lead program from this approach, NEO-STC-01, is a T cell therapy candidate targeting shared RAS neoantigens. In addition, Neon has assembled libraries of high-quality TCRs against various shared neoantigens across common HLAs.

Neon’s pipeline is underpinned by its platform technologies including RECON®, its machine-learning bioinformatics platform, and NEO-STIM™, its proprietary process to directly prime, activate and expand neoantigen-targeting T cells ex vivo.

Transaction Details

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, Neon will, following consummation of the acquisition, merge with Endor Lights, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of BioNTech and become a wholly-owned subsidiary of BioNTech. At closing, BioNTech will issue, and Neon shareholders will receive 0.063 American Depositary Shares (ADS) (each ADS representing one ordinary share of BioNTech) in exchange for each of their shares of Neon. The exchange ratio implies a deal value of $67 million, or $2.18 per share of Neon, based on the closing price of BioNTech’s ADSs of $34.55 on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.

The transaction was unanimously approved by both BioNTech’s and Neon’s boards of directors. The transaction, which is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020, is subject to approval of Neon’s shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Certain stockholders of Neon owning approximately 36% of the outstanding Neon shares have entered into voting agreements, pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, and subject to the terms and conditions of the agreements, to vote in favor of the Neon acquisition.

Ondra Partners is acting as the exclusive financial advisor to Neon and Goodwin Procter LLP is acting as legal counsel to Neon. Duff & Phelps LLC provided a fairness opinion to Neon’s board of directors in connection with the transaction. Covington & Burling LLP is acting as legal counsel to BioNTech.

About BioNTech

BioNTech was founded in 2008 on the understanding that every cancer patient’s tumor is unique and therefore each patient’s treatment should be individualized. Its cutting-edge pipeline includes individualized mRNA-based product candidates, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, novel checkpoint immunomodulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules. BioNTech has established relationships with seven pharmaceutical collaborators, including Eli Lilly and BioNTech, Genmab, Sanofi, Bayer Animal Health, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Genevant and Pfizer, and has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications on its scientific approach.

For more information, please visit www.BioNTech.de.

About Neon

Neon is a biotechnology company developing novel neoantigen-targeted T cell therapies, dedicated to transforming the treatment of cancer by directing the immune system towards neoantigens. Neon is using its neoantigen platform to develop both personal and precision neoantigen-targeted T cell therapy candidates. Neon’s most advanced program is NEO-PTC-01, its personalized neoantigen-targeted T cell therapy candidate consisting of multiple T cell populations targeting the most therapeutically relevant neoantigens from each patient’s tumor.

For more information, please visit www.neontherapeutics.com.

Important Additional Information and Where to Find It

In connection with the proposed merger, BioNTech will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) a Registration Statement on Form F-4 containing a proxy statement of Neon and a prospectus of BioNTech, and each of Neon and BioNTech may file with the SEC other documents regarding the proposed merger. The definitive proxy statement will be mailed to stockholders of Neon. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT ON FORM F-4 AND THE PROXY STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS, AS WELL AS ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS TO THOSE DOCUMENTS AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS TO BE FILED WITH THE SEC IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROPOSED MERGER, WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIONTECH, Neon AND THE PROPOSED MERGER. 

Investors and security holders may obtain copies of these documents free of charge through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov or from BioNTech at its website, https:// biontech.de, or from Neon at its website, https://Neon.com. Documents filed with the SEC by BioNTech will be available free of charge by accessing BioNTech’s website under the heading Investors & Media, or, alternatively, by directing a request by telephone or mail to BioNTech at An der Goldgrube 12, 55131 Mainz, Germany, and documents filed with the SEC by Neon will be available free of charge by accessing Neon’s website at https://neontherapeutics.com under the heading Investor Resources or, alternatively, by directing a request by telephone or mail to Neon at 40 Erie Street, Suite 110, Cambridge, MA 02139.

No Offer or Solicitation

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities nor a solicitation of any vote or approval with respect to the proposed transaction or otherwise. No offering of securities shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and otherwise in accordance with applicable law.

Participants in Solicitation

BioNTech and Neon and certain of their respective directors and executive officers and other members of management and employees may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of Neon in respect of the proposed merger under the rules of the SEC. Information about Neon’s directors and executive officers is available in Neon’s definitive proxy statement dated April 26, 2019 for its 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and certain of its Current Reports on Form 8-K. Information about BioNTech’s directors and executive officers is available in BioNTech’s Registration Statement on Form F-1 filed with the SEC on September 9, 2019, as amended. Other information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC regarding the proposed merger when they become available. Investors should read the proxy statement/prospectus carefully when it becomes available before making any voting or investment decisions. You may obtain free copies of these documents from Neon or BioNTech using the sources indicated above.

SOURCE: BioNTech

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