Woori BMO Group Comments On Bayer Spending Up To $4 Billion For Gene-Therapy Firm AskBio

TORONTO, ON / ACCESSWIRE / October 27, 2020 / Woori BMO Group has today commented on Bayer AG as the company reveals it will spend as much as $4 billion to purchase U.S. biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc. and reinforce the company's drug manufacturing unit with gene therapies.

"Bayer will pay $2 billion now and up to another $2 billion in cash instalments based on the units future success milestones. This is a notable gamble on cutting-edge gene therapy, which is where a functional gene is inserted to counter the effects of a disease caused by an absent or faulty gene," commented Christian Harper, Director of EMEA Wealth Management at Woori BMO Group.

"The overall market value for cell and gene therapy stood $4.8 billion in 2019 and is likely to grow tenfold to $44.5 billion by 2024," Harper added.

Bayer is investing in the gene and cell therapy arena at a time when its blockbuster drugs begin to age and the company's crop-protection business reels from the pandemic's impact on farm commodities since its acquisition of biotech firm Monsanto.

The $63 billion Monsanto acquisition was supposed to bring the company another significant, fast-growing revenue stream in addition to pharmaceuticals. Instead, it has burdened Bayer with a lengthy legal battle over whether Monsanto's Roundup weedkillers are causing cancer, a dispute that has seriously damaged Bayer's share price. Bayer is claiming that Roundup is safe.

Last month, Bayer then stunned its investors with a warning that the coronavirus pandemic would impact its agriculture business harder than anticipated. Bayer has also suffered setbacks in resolving the $10.9 billion Roundup lawsuits.

Bayer's drug portfolio has also been troubling investors, according to researchers at Woori BMO Group. From around 2024, two of the company's bestselling drugs-eye treatment Eylea and blood thinner Xarelto-will begin to lose patent protection.

"Bayer's shares have lost 42% this year and are massively underperforming the broader German market, which is down just 6% since January. With a company valuation of around $50 billion, the Leverkusen-based conglomerate's market cap has more than halved since it purchased Monsanto," commented Andrew Williams, Director of Institutional Equity at Woori BMO Group.

To expand its pipeline, Bayer has therefore been searching for drug-development collaborations or agreements to license drugs that are in advanced stages of clinical development.

AskBio currently has licensed therapeutics undergoing clinical trials for treating patients with Hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy to drug manufacturers including Pfizer Inc. The company is also developing medicines for other cardiovascular, central nervous system, neuromuscular and metabolic diseases.

AskBio was co-founded by Richard Jude Samulski, who pioneered the use of what is regarded as adeno-associated viruses as vehicles to replace a defective gene with a healthy gene. In 2016, as Pfizer sought to boost its influence in the treatment of rare diseases, it purchased Bamboo Therapeutics Inc. from AskBio.

About Woori BMO Group

Founded in 2007, Woori BMO Group is a full-service wealth management company providing both corporate institutions and private clients a tailored financial advisory service from its retail office in Toronto, Canada.

Media Contact

Company: Woori BMO Group
Contact: Mr. Shinsato Masao, Chief Economist
Telephone: +1-647-946-8880
Email: shinsato.masao@wbginternational.com
Address: 25F Exchange Tower, 130 King Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada M5X 1E3

SOURCE: Woori BMO Group

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