Nestlé bolsters food allergy portfolio with $2.6-billion deal for Aimmune

Nestlé entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Aimmune Therapeutics at $34.50 per share in cash, for a total enterprise value of about $2.6 billion, gaining the latter's peanut allergy treatment Palforzia (peanut allergen powder-dnfp), the companies announced Monday. The acquisition price for the transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, represents a 174% premium to Aimmune's closing share price on August 28.

"This transaction brings together Nestlé's nutritional science leadership with one of the most innovative companies in food allergy treatment," commented Nestlé Health Science CEO Greg Behar. "Aimmune has $261 million in cash and $134 million in debt. With our prior investment of $473 million in Aimmune, we'll be making a cash payment of just under $2 billion," Behar noted.

Only approved peanut allergy treatment

The FDA cleared Palforzia, also known as AR101, in January for individuals ages four through 17 years, making it the first, and so far only, approved treatment to help reduce the frequency and severity of allergic reactions to peanuts in children (for related analysis, see ViewPoints: Aimmune wastes no time building on Palforzia's success). "(Palforzia) has 12 years of exclusivity, global rollout will follow and they have the technology platform for other food allergies in development," Behar said.

Nestlé Health Science currently holds an approximate 25.6% equity ownership stake in Aimmune, with around 19.6% being voting common stock. The Nestlé unit initially took a stake in Aimmune in 2016, followed by additional investments, the most recent being earlier this year for $200 million.

'Another milestone'

Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy described the deal as "another milestone" for Nestlé Health Science after it acquired nutritional health products company Atrium Innovations in 2017 for $2.3 billion.

According to Behar, Nestlé Health Science was on track to more than double sales by 2022, from CHF 2 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2014, and was expected to close this year at CHF 3.3 billion ($3.7 billion). Nestlé said the Aimmune deal is expected to add to organic growth in 2021 and contribute to cash earnings starting in 2022.

Children prescribed Palforzia, which is derived from peanut powder, take escalating doses of the treatment, mixed with other foods, to build up resistance. When the drug was approved earlier this year, Aimmune set a list price of $890 a month, or about $10,680 a year. Analysts have said it could have annual sales of $1 billion later this decade. Meanwhile, the FDA recently issued a complete response letter to DBV Technologies regarding its Viaskin Peanut treatment for peanut allergies in children ages four to 11 years.

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