Seattle biotechnology company Theraclone Sciences plans to combine with a publicly traded Maryland biotech in a merger of equals, adding a new stock — and a new name — to the Seattle life-sciences scene.
Theraclone CEO Cliff Stocks, who will lead the combined company, said Annapolis, Md.-based PharmAthene offers “a good fit and a good way to get public.”
Theraclone is developing disease-specific antibodies to fight cancer and serious infectious diseases, while PharmAthene is a biodefense company focused on anthrax and chemical nerve agents.
If the merger is approved by shareholders and regulators, the combined company will be based in Seattle and use PharmAthene’s name and its ticker symbol, PIP.
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Shareholders of the proposed merger partner greeted the deal without much enthusiasm, sending PharmAthene’s shares down more than 7 percent. The shares closed at $1.64, giving the company a market capitalization of nearly $80 million.
Stocks said he doesn’t expect any layoffs among Theraclone’s 34 Seattle employees or the roughly 50 at PharmAthene.
“There’s very little redundancy,” he said.
PharmAthene has government-sector expertise that Theraclone can use, he said. Likewise, the Seattle company is more experienced in pursuing commercial markets, and can move PharmAthene’s product pipeline into that realm, “where you can get a much better return,” he said.
The last local biotech to try such a merger, Allozyne, was foiled in 2011 when its intended partner’s shareholders failed to approve the deal.
Stocks said he doesn’t anticipate such problems. “We will be able to tell a very compelling story. I believe we bring a lot of value.”
He pointed to the 2010 combination of Seattle biotech Trubion with an East Coast public company, Emergent BioSolutions, as “a better benchmark.”