Startups

Gaithersburg’s Viela Bio is set to be acquired for $3.05B

As part of the deal expected to close by the end of this quarter, Dublin-based Horizon Therapeutics will acquire all of Viela’s outstanding common stock for $53 per share in cash.

Bing Yao, chairman and CEO of Viela Bio.

(Photo via Viela Bio's website)

Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Viela Bio is set to be acquired by Dublin-based biopharmaceutical company Horizon Therapeutics for $3.05 billion.

Launched in February 2018, the biotech startup develops treatments for severe inflammation and autoimmune diseases and is part of a blooming life sciences sector in Maryland. The company originally spun out of Gaithersburg biotech company MedImmune in 2017, a company that was later dissolved by its owner AstraZeneca in 2019, the same year Viela Bio went public.

Horizon shared the news publicly on Monday. A news release states that the board of directors from both companies unanimously approved of the transaction. As part of the deal, Horizon will acquire all of Viela’s outstanding common stock for $53 per share in cash. The acquisition deal is expected to close at the end of this quarter.

“We believe that the combined pipeline, including the pursuit of additional potential indications, has the potential to yield innovative new medicines to treat autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases,” Viela Chairman and CEO Bing Yao said in a statement.“Our collective R&D expertise coupled with Horizon’s commercial capabilities, has the potential to provide benefit to more patients with high unmet treatment needs.”

The biotech company employed roughly 150 full-timers as of last June, according to the Washington Business Journal, while Horizon manages a team of 1,275 employees. The companies haven’t disclosed any immediate leadership changes at this time, but Viela’s shareholders have roughly 54% of shares to hand over to Horizon.

Since the announcement landed today, Viela’s stock has skyrocketed by 52.5%. On Friday, a share of Viela’s stock was priced at $34.58, but as of Monday, it’s been bumped up to $53 per share.

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One of the biggest assets Horizon is gaining with this acquisition is the Uplizna medicine developed by Viela, a treatment for a rare autoimmune condition called neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).  This medication is the only one of its kind to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of NMOSD.

“This acquisition represents a significant step forward in advancing our strategy — to expand our pipeline in order to accelerate our growth over the long term,” said Horizon President, Chairman and CEO Tim Walbert in a statement. “We intend to maximize the full potential of Viela’s pipeline, including the pursuit of additional future indications.”

Viela has a number of open Gaithersburg-based roles posted on its website.

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