March 17, 2020 / 12:31 PM / 14 days ago

German biotech CureVac says it has had no U.S. takeover offer

FRANKFURT, March 17 (Reuters) - German biotech firm CureVac said it had not received a takeover offer from the United States after German government sources told Reuters that Washington was looking into how to gain access to an experimental coronavirus vaccine it was developing.

“CureVac has not received from the U.S. government or related entities an offer before, during and since the Task Force meeting in the White House on March 2,” unlisted CureVac said in a statement issued on Twitter on Monday.

CureVac said here this month that its CEO at the time, Daniel Menichella, met U.S. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical companies to discuss a vaccine.

The company is scheduled to hold a media call at 1300 GMT.

The U.S. overture was initially reported by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, prompting U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, to say on Twitter the report was wrong.

The main investor behind CureVac, SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp, however, was quoted as saying on Monday that he had weighed in against a U.S. approach.

Speaking to sports broadcaster Sport1, Hopp - who is also the owner of German first-division soccer team Hoffenheim - was asked about U.S. interest in exclusive rights to the CureVac vaccine under development.

"He (Trump) spoke to the company and I was told about it immediately and was asked what I made of it and I knew immediately this was out of the question," he was quoted as saying on Sport1's website here

Hopp and officials representing him were not immediately available to comment.

The European Commission on Monday said it offered up to 80 million euros ($89 million) of financial support to CureVac for its development activities, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying CureVac’s home was in Europe. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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