Merck paying $1.85B for biotech focused on autoimmune diseases

Merck has agreed to acquire Pandion Therapeutics Inc., a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, for about $1.85 billion, it announced Thursday.

The Kenilworth-based drugmaker said in a news release that it will pay $60 per share in cash for the clinical-stage developer of novel therapeutics aimed at autoimmune diseases.

“This acquisition builds upon Merck’s strategy to identify and secure candidates with differentiated and potentially foundational characteristics,” Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories, said in a prepared statement. “Pandion has applied its ‘TALON’ technology to develop a robust pipeline of candidates designed to rebalance the immune response with potential applications across a wide array of autoimmune diseases.”

Pandion’s lead candidate, PT101, is a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases.

Under the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of Pandion. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of the year, pending customary approvals and conditions.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as financial adviser to Merck, while Covington & Burling LLP acted as legal adviser. Centerview Partners LLC acted as financial adviser to Pandion, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acted as legal adviser.