Aratana Therapeutics, Inc. has announced that it has acquired Okapi Sciences NV, a Belgium-based company with a proprietary pet therapeutics antiviral platform and five clinical/development stage candidates for treating important viral diseases.
The strategic acquisition of Okapi further enhances Aratana’s leadership position in pet therapeutics by bringing with it a unique combination of individuals, strong relationships with academic institutions, novel technologies and products, and favorable geographic location.
Aratana plans to continue to advance the current Okapi pipeline of high value antiviral drugs, including its feline herpes and feline immunodeficiency virus franchises. Okapi’s lead antiviral product candidate is being developed as a treatment of ocular disease caused by feline herpes virus in cats and is poised to become the world’s first antiviral small molecule therapeutic developed specifically for veterinary use.
If approved, Aratana plans to commercialize the product in certain territories under an existing development and commercialization agreement with Novartis Animal Health. Okapi’s current pipeline also includes a product for the treatment of feline immunodeficiency virus as well as additional antiviral and oncology products for both cats and dogs.
Viral infections are very common in pets, affecting millions of cats and dogs. Currently there are no approved species-specific antiviral drugs available on the market to treat the numerous infectious diseases that threaten pets. Typically only symptoms, rather than the underlying disease, are being treated.
Steven St. Peter, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Aratana, stated, "We are excited to complete this strategic acquisition, which significantly expands our European presence and broadens and diversifies our portfolio. We will continue to nurture the relationships Okapi has forged with leading universities in Europe such as KU Leuven. This transaction reiterates Aratana’s commitment to advancing innovative molecules and bringing them to market to improve the lives of pets."
Erwin Blomsma, Ph.D., co-founder and former CEO of Okapi Sciences NV, has joined Aratana as its Vice President and will serve as General Manager of Okapi Sciences NV. Dr. Blomsma stated, "We view this transaction as an important next stage in bringing our molecules closer to the market, which will benefit pets in need world-wide. We are excited to be welcomed into a growing and dynamic pet therapeutics company that shares our philosophy regarding elevating the standard of care for our pets.”
Under the terms of the stock purchase agreement for the Okapi Sciences acquisition, Aratana paid to Okapi Sciences' equity holders at the closing approximately €10.3 million in cash and issued a promissory note for €11 million with a maturity date of December 31, 2014, subject to mandatory prepayment in the event of an equity financing, and agreed to pay an additional €12 million in cash or shares of common stock calculated in the manner specified in the purchase agreement within 90 days, subject to mandatory prepayment in cash in the event of an equity financing.
In connection with the transaction, stockholders of Aratana owning approximately 13 million shares of common stock extended the restricted period under their existing lock-up agreements with the company through 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on February 12, 2014.