Avoro Capital Advisors (“Avoro”), a long-term and collaborative investor in life sciences and biotechnology companies, together with certain of its affiliates and managed funds (“Avoro,” “we” or “us”) beneficially owns approximately 7% of Acceleron Pharma Inc. (Nasdaq: XLRN) (“Acceleron,” “XLRN” or the “Company”), making Avoro one of the Company’s most significant shareholders. Avoro today issued the following statement reiterating why it believes that shareholders should not tender their Acceleron shares into the Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) (“Merck”) tender offer for $180 per share (the “Tender Offer”):
“As the Company’s third-largest shareholder, we are deeply committed to Acceleron’s success and believe the Company will create significant value for shareholders in the future. We continue to believe that the proposed transaction with Merck is ill-timed, undervalues the Company, and is the result of a wholly inadequate process. That is why we are not going to tender our shares in support of the transaction.
Others agree. Several other large, biotechnology and pharmaceutical specialist funds have publicly stated their opposition to this transaction and their intent not to tender their shares. Leading independent proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc., recently noted1 the ‘significant opposition from XLRN shareholders arguing that the deal does not properly compensate investors’ and provided a long list of ‘recent examples of acquisitions by tender offer that had to be raised before being completed’ because the use of a tender offer ‘to circumvent a shareholder vote … potentially … serve[s] as a signal to shareholders that they may have leverage to seek better terms.’
Acceleron is at a pivotal moment and is poised to create significant value in one year or less after the STELLAR phase 3 trial data is available. The Company should not transact – and certainly not at this price – before those results are known. If the Company believes it needs capital, there are many alternatives for financing, such as a royalty financing for its Reblozyl franchise.
We remain committed to assisting a standalone Acceleron succeed – including by helping to modify the composition of its Board of Directors by adding individuals with relevant experience and expertise.
We urge all Acceleron shareholders NOT to tender into this inadequate offer and abandon the opportunity for significant future value creation.”
About Avoro Capital L.P.
Avoro Capital L.P., is the parent of Avoro Capital Advisors LLC (“Avoro Capital Advisors”) and Avoro Ventures LLC (“Avoro Ventures”). Avoro Capital Advisors is an SEC-registered investment manager located in New York City, investing in public and private equity companies focused primarily on life sciences and biotechnology. Managing Partner, Behzad Aghazadeh PhD, has over 25 years of experience spent in scientific research, healthcare consulting, institutional investment and executive leadership within the healthcare sector, and is supported by a team of seasoned professionals with advanced medical and scientific backgrounds, and extensive investment experience in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Forward-Looking Statements and Additional Information
This communication contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts and may include projections and estimates and their underlying assumptions, statements regarding plans, objectives, intentions and expectations with respect to future financial results, events, operations, services, product development and potential, and statements regarding future performance. Forward-looking statements are generally identified by the words “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “estimates,” “plans,” “will be” and similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the planned completion of the transactions contemplated by the Tender Offer. Although Avoro believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, investors are cautioned that forward-looking information and statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Avoro, Merck or Acceleron, that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties are enumerated in Acceleron’s public filings and recent public communications regarding the Tender Offer by Acceleron and Merck. In addition, the foregoing considerations and any other publicly stated risks and uncertainties should be read in conjunction with the risks and cautionary statements discussed or identified in the public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) made by Merck and Acceleron, including those listed under “Risk Factors” in Merck’s annual reports on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and Acceleron’s annual reports on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K filed with the SEC. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof and, other than as required by applicable law, Avoro does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements. Unless otherwise noted, Avoro has neither sought nor obtained permission to use third party statements reproduced herein.
1 Permission to quote ISS was neither sought nor obtained.