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After delay, CSL’s $11.7B deal for Vifor poised to close next week

August 7, 2022
Life sciences

After an antitrust review knocked 2021’s biggest biopharma buyout off course in May, CSL’s $11.7 billion deal for Swiss iron deficiency specialist Vifor Pharma appears to be back on track.

Tuesday, CSL said it had clinched all regulatory clearance needed to go through with its Vifor buy, which is now expected to close next week on Aug. 9, the companies said in a release.

Once the offer is settled, CSL expects to get its hands on more than 97% of Vifor shares. At the same time, CSL plans to have Vifor apply for the delisting of its shares post-close. CSL has also filed an action to cancel remaining publicly held Vifor shares to satisfy Swiss takeover rules.

Alongside news of the looming merger, CSL has tapped GSK veteran Hervé Gisserot to lead the incoming Vifor business as general manager. Gisserot joined Vifor in January and currently serves as the company’s chief commercial officer. He entered the Vifor fold from GSK, where he held several senior vice president roles, including most recently head of pharmaceuticals and vaccines for greater China and intercontinental.

In tandem with the acquisition’s close, Vifor’s current CEO Abbas Hussain will step down in the “coming months,” the companies said.

The $11.7 billion deal will give CSL access to Vifor’s kidney disease and iron deficiency offerings. CSL’s biotech business, CSL Behring, currently depends on its immunoglobulin portfolio, which has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to plasma collection hurdles.

Merger aside, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Vifor in recent months. Earlier this year, the FDA swatted down Akebia Therapeutics’ chronic kidney disease anemia therapy vadadustat, which Vifor has a license to sell through its Fresenius dialysis facilities and other third-party sites.

Meanwhile, the acquisition hit a snag back in May when CSL said the deal would “take a few more months” beyond its originally proposed closing period of June 2022.

Vifor, in its own statement, said certain antitrust authorities hadn’t delivered a verdict on the potential buyout. At the time, rulings from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the European Competition Commission and the Swiss Takeover Board were all still pending, according to the Australia Financial Review.

By Fraiser Kansteiner


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