UPDATE 1-Mitsubishi Tanabe bets on new vaccine technology with Medicago stake buy

Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:46am EDT

TOKYO/BANGALORE, July 12 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp said it would buy a 54 percent stake in Canada's Medicago Inc for up to C$179 million ($172 million) to add plant-derived vaccine technology to its portfolio.

Medicago will become a joint-venture firm of Mitsubishi Tanabe and Philip Morris International, which already holds a 38.5 percent stake in the company through a subsidiary. ()

Mitsubishi's offer of C$1.16 per share represents a 22 percent premium to Medicago's Thursday close. The Japanese firm had acquired a 6 percent stake in Medicago in 2011.

The Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company, owns technology to make and extract virus-like particles (VLPs) from plants to be used in vaccines.

Virus-like particles mimic authentic viruses present in a vaccine but lack viral genetic material, potentially yielding safer and cheaper vaccine candidates.

Mitsubishi Tanabe makes and markets drugs for diabetes, autoimmune and kidney diseases.

It collaborated with Medicago last year for research in plant-derived VLPs. In June, Medicago produced a VLP for Rotavirus, a common cause of severe diarrhea in infants.

Under the deal, Mitsubishi and Philip Morris Investments will each nominate two directors to Medicago's board and Mitsubishi will appoint the chairman.

Mitsubishi expects the acquisition to be completed in 50 to 75 days. TD Securities advised Medicago on the deal.

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