Sonus Pharmaceuticals (SNUS) said it will merge with OncoGenex of Vancouver, pairing the Bothell company's cash hoard of nearly $30 million with the Canadian firm's more successful pipeline of cancer therapies.
Sonus Pharmaceuticals, which has struggled since its breast cancer drug flopped in clinical trials last year, said Wednesday it will merge with British Columbia biotech firm OncoGenex Technologies.
OncoGenex president and chief executive Scott Cormack will run the combined company, to be called OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals.
Bothell-based Sonus saw its market value drop precipitously last fall after the failure of its clinical trials, and laid off a significant portion of its staff. The failure obliterated its clinical pipeline, but the company reported this month that as of March 31 it still had nearly $30 million in cash and marketable securities.
If the transaction is approved by regulators and shareholders, OncoGenex stockholders will hold 50 percent of Sonus. The parties expect the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2008.
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OncoGenex shareholders could receive more Sonus stock if the combined company meets certain research and business targets.
Sonus’ cash — and its access to U.S. equity markets as a listed public company — might help fund OncoGenex’s pipeline of oncology therapies. The Vancouver firm’s lead product is in mid-stage, or Phase II, trials.
“We believe that this transaction represents an outstanding value creation opportunity for shareholders,” said Michael Martino, president and chief executive of Sonus.
Earlier this month, the company was warned by Nasdaq warning that it could be delisted if its shares don’t float back above $1 within six months.
Sonus shares fell 11.45 percent to 29 cents in trading today in the wake of the merger announcement.