Another delay for Roche in its takeover of Spark Therapeutics

Roche has delayed its $4.3bn takeover of gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics by another three months, leaving investors confused to why the Federal Trade Commission seems so reluctant to green 
light this deal.

Rumours have arisen that the FTC’s reluctance is due to Roche/Sparks potentially dominance in the haemophilia market. Roche’s antibody drug Hemlibra, has been growing at an exponential rate in the first half of this year, recording sales of $540m. Could FTC have concerns about Spark Therapeutics rising prominence in gene therapy for this blood disease, breaching anticompetitive issues?

Analysts believe that the delay could also be due to the FTC, changing its requirements and taking a tougher stance towards these deals particularly around gene therapy biotech firms. If this is true, this could create a reluctance from big pharma companies to takeover over smaller, specialized firms if such a difficult and lenghthy procedure is required, halting the growing trend of pharma-biotech takeovers. 

Roche CEO, Severin Schwann, is confident that Roche will have this takeover secured by the end of this year, with a new deadline date set as 3rd September 2019 rather than the previous date of the 31st July. He also announced that both companies are committed to the deal and are working closely with the FTC and the UK Competition and Markets Authority, to ensure ‘we proactively identify and remove any potential future obstacles to achieving this outcome.’

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