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Horizon Discovery Acquiring Sage Labs for up to $48M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Horizon Discovery Group today announced the acquisition of Sage Labs, a provider of research models and transgenic support services, for up to $48 million.

Sage is a former business within Sigma-Aldrich and was known as Sigma Advanced Genetic Engineering. Its management and Telegraph Hill Partners purchased the business in 2013 and renamed it Sage Labs. Last year it reached an agreement with Caribou Biosciences covering that firm's CRISPR-Cas9-related IP, and earlier this year, Sage licensed CRISPR-Cas9 technology from the Broad Institute.

The acquisition of Sage provides Horizon an expanded range of genetically engineered preclinical models for the discovery and development of medicines targeted to genetic drivers of diseases, such as cancer. Horizon said that its Genesis gene editing platform combined with Sage's diversifies its product and service offerings into adjacent markets, increases cost consolidation and cross-selling potential, and strengthens its intellectual property portfolio.

Additionally, Sage will provide Horizon with long-term opportunities to innovate organically, as well as deep customer relationships that complement Horizon's existing businesses.

As a result of the deal, Horizon will gain exclusive access to zinc finger nucleases for in vivo model generation and certain exclusive and non-exclusive CRISPR in vivo-related IP, adding to its existing IP in CRISPR, ZFN, and recombinant adeno-associated virus technologies, Horizon said. Among the assets being acquired are a custom-engineered in vivo model development service, ready-to-use in vivo models, and molecularly annotated patient-derived xenograft models and custom development capabilities.

"The acquisition positions Horizon as the world leader in gene editing and at the forefront of technological advances in the field of translational genomics," Horizon CEO Darrin Disley said in a statement. "The consolidated offering significantly strengthens Horizon commercially, allowing us to offer product, service, and R&D programs to customers engaged at every stage of translational genomics and personalized medicine research from sequence to treatment."

The transaction comprises up to $16 million in cash and up to $32 million through the issuance of new ordinary shares. Upon closing of the deal, anticipated to be Oct. 2, Horizon would pay $15.2 million in cash and issue about 11 million new ordinary shares representing $30.4 million. Horizon may pay another $800,000 and issue new ordinary shares representing $1.6 million 12 months after the closing of the deal.

Sage has 50 employees and a direct US and EU sales force, as well as facilities totaling 43,000 square feet, which would allow Horizon to scale up its product and service offerings.

Sage's customer base is mainly in the US, and Horizon said that it will focus on expanding Sage's presence in Europe, Japan, and beyond. Sage CEO David Smoller will join Horizon as its chief business officer. He and Disley will lead the implementation of the long-term corporate development strategy. Edward Weinstein will become general manager of Sage.

The acquisition follows Horizon's purchase of CombinatoRx in the spring for £4.74 million ($8.0 million).

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