Celgene to Buy Juno Therapeutics for $9 Billion -- 2nd Update

Celgene Corp. on Monday said it agreed to buy Juno Therapeutics Inc. for $87 a share in cash, or about $9 billion, in a move that will expand Celgene's portfolio of blood-cancer drugs.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week the two companies were in deal talks.

The deal will add a lymphoma treatment, expected to gain regulatory approval in 2019, to Celgene's portfolio. Celgene said the treatment, called JCAR017, has the potential to reach peak global sales of $3 billion.

"We are bringing together two organizations with a shared vision to make cancer a chronic illness while we work toward a cure," Chief Executive Mark Alles said on a Monday call with investors.

Earlier this month, Celgene agreed to buy closely held Impact Biomedicines. The deal calls for Celgene to pay $1.1 billion upfront and the company could make billions of dollars of additional payments if Impact hits certain regulatory-approval milestones.

Celgene, based in Summit, N.J., is one of the biggest U.S. biotech companies. It is known for its blood-cancer drugs, notably top-selling product Revlimid, but has been trying to diversify its portfolio before Revlimid loses patent protection in the U.S.

Seattle-based Juno is one of the companies pioneering a new kind of cancer treatment, known as CAR-T, that takes a patient's own immune cells, modifies them and then sets them loose to hunt down and attack tumors. Two CAR-T treatments have gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, one from Novartis AG and one from Gilead Sciences Inc., which paid more than $10 billion for Kite Pharma and its CAR-T technology.

One unanswered question is whether the drugs under development will be limited to treating cancers affecting the production of blood cells like myeloma and leukemia or whether they can extend to solid tumors, such as breast and lung cancer. Celgene executives told investors on a call Monday they "humbly believe" that it will.

Celgene executives also said the company will continue looking for acquisitions.

Celgene plans to expand into Juno's research and development facility in Seattle and manufacturing facility in Bothell, Wash. The company said the deal doesn't change its 2020 financial targets of net product sales of $19 billion to $20 billion and adjusted earnings per share of more than $12.50.

The deal, which has been approved by both companies' boards, is still subject to closing conditions. Celgene expects the transaction to close in the first quarter.

Juno shares jumped 27% in early trading Monday, while Celgene shares slid 1.2%.

Write to Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 22, 2018 11:04 ET (16:04 GMT)