* Ipsen, Inspiration in worldwide blood disease drug deal
* Deal could yield sales of over $1 bln by 2010
* Ipsen buys 20% Inspiration stake, could take full control
(Adds analyst comment)
By Caroline Jacobs
PARIS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Ipsen SA (IPN.PA) and Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals are teaming up to develop blood disorder drugs that could yield sales of over $1 billion by 2020 and could lead to Ipsen fully acquiring Inspiration in five years.
French drugmaker Ipsen will first buy a 20 percent stake in U.S.-based Inspiration for $85 million and can opt to raise its stake to 47 percent for up to $174 million, based on milestones in the development of their haemophilia treatments.
A further option is to buy the rest of the company.
The transaction, expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, comes as Ipsen sets its sights on expansion in the United States, the world’s biggest drug market, where it acquired two companies in 2008 and launched its first drug last year.
Ipsen will provide up to $259 million to Inspiration to develop and market their haemophilia drug pipeline, of which the two main candidates, Ipsen’s OBI-1 and Inspiration’s IB1001, are set to begin final stage or Phase III clinical testing in 2010.
Analysts said the agreement resembled the one Ipsen originally sealed with Tercica in 2006, gradually taking control of the endocrinology group and providing Ipsen an entry into the U.S. market.
“Short-term it allows Ipsen to cut research and development costs while keeping a hand in their main product OBI-1,” Societe Generale analyst Rodolphe Besserve said. “Long-term, however, it could be dilutive for margins, as it has been the case with Tercica, if the company decides to eventually buy Inspiration.”
Besserve rates Ipsen “hold” with a 39 euro share price target. The stock closed at 40.09 euros on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, announced by both companies on Thursday, Ipsen will exclusively sub-license OBI-1 to Inspiration, receiving $50 million in convertible notes and a 27.5 percent royalty on future OBI-1 sales.
Haemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by low levels or absence of a protein that is essential for blood clotting. (Editing by Will Waterman and David Holmes)