With $50M Purchase Of Akarna, Allergan Buys Two Liver Researchers In 24 Hours

Shares of Allergan (AGN) are in focus after the pharmaceutical giant announced the acquisition of Akarna after the closing bell, marking its second M&A announcement today after this morning's deal for Tobira Therapeutics (TBRA).

WHAT'S NEW: After the market close, Allergan announced that it acquired inflammatory and fibrotic disease researcher Akarna Therapeutics for an upfront payment of $50M. In addition to securing Akarna's wider drug portfolio, the deal gives Allergan global rights to its lead product AKN-083, a preclinical compound in development for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Allergan remarked that the drug is a "potentially best-in-class" therapy and "highly complementary" to the Cenicriviroc and Evogliptin compounds in development at Tobira. Commenting on the transaction, Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said, "We look forward to advancing this unique compound into later stages of development, and to advancing our overall portfolio of NASH programs," while R&D chief Dave Nicholson called AKN-083 a "great addition."

WHAT'S NOTABLE: Before the market open, Allergan announced an agreement to acquire Tobira for an upfront payment of $28.35 per share and up to $49.84 per share in milestone payments, representing a total potential consideration of up to $1.695B. Much like Akarna, Tobira is focused on therapies for NASH and other liver diseases.

ANALYST OPINION: With Allergan's acquisition of Tobira seeming to spur speculative trading in other NASH names during the regular session, Stifel analyst Stephen Willey said earlier there are some "interesting" similarities between Conatus (CNAT) and Tobira, though he urged investors hoping for a Tobira-like premium to stay cautious given the clear distinctions between the two.

PRICE ACTION: Allergan rose 0.47% to $239.80 in post-market trading after closing the day down 2.70% to $238.67. NASH researcher Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT), which rose more than 8% in regular trading, is down a penny, while Conatus is up 1% after already jumping 19.4% in Tuesday's session. Showing the biggest after-hours move of the group, Galectin (GALT) is up nearly 7%.

Disclosure: None.

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