Sino F-Star buy approved after nine month wait

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has approved Sino Biopharm’s $161 million acquisition of UK-based bispecific antibody developer F-Star.

Sino Biopharm was approved to close the all-cash acquisition last week after the purchase was held up for nine months by CFIUS.

The US government agency had been concerned about China’s acquisition of advanced US technologies. The deal has become a major focus in the global competition between China and the US.

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Cambridge, UK-headquartered F-Star – which has a NASDAQ listing and a US subsidiary in Cambridge, Massachusetts – develops bispecific drugs for immunotherapies using its platform technology that pioneers the use of tetravalent (2+2) bispecific antibodies.

F-Star will be acquired by invoX Pharma, a UK subsidiary of Sino Biopharm that is responsible for Sino Biopharm’s R&D and business development outside of China. F-Star lacks capital to advance its portfolio, and Sino Biopharm wants to expand globally, with an existing interest in novel technologies. The deal seemed like a win for both sides before CFIUS decided to question the effect of the deal on US companies.

Although CFIUS appeared ready to stop the acquisition, Sino Bio has been negotiating terms for closing the deal, and it has finally succeeded, though the terms of the company’s deal with CFIUS were not disclosed. One source linked the approval to Sino Biopharma’s recent decision to stop its planned secondary listing on the Shanghai exchange. Neither of the companies mentioned the listing as a problem.

F-Star’s antibodies target two different antigens and are paired with a unique set of pharmacology agents to activate an immune reaction in the tumor microenvironment. F-Star has four candidates in clinical trials, three from its tetravalent platform and one next-gen STING agonist.

F-Star believes its drug assets could prove to be first- and best-in-class drug candidates in areas of unmet medical need, including patients with cancer and other serious diseases. Using its modular antibody technology, F-star has formed collaborations with major international biopharma companies in therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology and neurology

Sino Biopharm invests 10%-12% of its annual revenues in R&D. It has research centers in Beijing, Nanjing, Lianyungang, Qingdao and Shanghai with more than 2,000 high level staff members. The company has dozens of research platforms and mature R&D technology platforms in its 20+ subsidiaries, including CTTQ, a company that been cited for its R&D.

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