Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISPH) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck will acquire Inspire, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing ophthalmic products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will commence a tender offer for all outstanding common stock of Inspire at a price of $5.00 per share in cash, a 26 percent premium to the closing price of Inspire's common stock on April 4, 2011. The transaction has a total cash value of approximately $430 million. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and Inspire's board recommended that the company's shareholders tender their shares pursuant to the tender offer. In addition, Warburg Pincus Private Equity IX, L.P., which owns approximately 28 percent of the outstanding shares of Inspire, has agreed to tender all of its shares into the offer.
"Merck continues to build upon its long-term commitment to improving therapeutic options for the treatment of eye diseases," said Beverly Lybrand, senior vice president and general manager, neuroscience and ophthalmology, Merck. "This acquisition combines the talented commercialization organization at Inspire with the excellent team already in place at Merck thereby strengthening our ophthalmology business and positioning us for future growth with an expanded portfolio. This deal helps address the needs of patients and customers in ophthalmology and creates value for both companies."
In March, 2011, Merck announced that the New Drug Application (NDA) for SAFLUTAN® (tafluprost), an investigational preservative-free prostaglandin analogue ophthalmic solution, had been accepted for standard review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). SAFLUTAN is the proposed trade name for tafluprost in the United States.
"As one of the world's leading healthcare companies, Merck is the ideal partner to enhance the long-term potential of Inspire's portfolio of ophthalmic assets. We are delighted that Merck recognized the strength of an integrated platform leveraging the growing AZASITE® (azithromycin ophthalmic solution) 1% product opportunity and the strong relationships within the ophthalmic community cultivated by our high quality, specialty eye care sales force in the U.S.," said Adrian Adams, president and CEO of Inspire. "Based upon an extensive analysis of various strategic options, as I have outlined since we announced the results of the TIGER-2 Phase 3 clinical trial, we believe this combination provides a compelling and timely opportunity for our shareholders to realize the value of their investment in Inspire."
The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of a number of Inspire shares that, together with shares owned by Merck, represent at least a majority of the total number of Inspire's outstanding shares (assuming the exercise of all options and vesting of restricted stock units), the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. Upon the completion of the tender offer, Merck will acquire all remaining shares through a second-step merger.