A cancer-drug developer's stock just surged more than 100% after Merck agreed to a multi-billion-dollar takeover

picture alliance/Getty ImagesA biotech lab.
  • Cancer-drug developer ArQule skyrocketed as much as 102% in early Monday trading after Merck agreed to acquire the company in a $US2.7 billion takeover.
  • Merck offered $US20 per share in the all-cash bid, more than double ArQule’s $US9.66 Friday closing price.
  • ArQule’s lead drug candidate, ARQ 531, is in Phase 2 testing as a treatment for blood cancer.
  • Watch ArQule trade live here.
  • Watch Merck trade live here.

Cancer-drug developer ArQule spiked as much as 102% in early Monday trading after Merck said it would acquire the firm in a $US2.7 billion takeover.

Merck offered $US20 per share in the all-cash bid, more than double ArQule’s Friday closing price. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, according to a press release.

“With this agreement, ArQule’s pipeline will benefit from Merck’s vast capabilities and determined engagement to benefit the patients who we have always strived to serve,” ArQule CEO Paolo Pucci said in the release.

Merck traded as much as 0.7% higher on the news.

ArQule’s lead drug candidate, ARQ 531, is in Phase 2 testing as a treatment for blood cancer. The orally delivered drug targets B-cell malignancies and showed “early signs of anti-tumour activity” in early clinical trials, according to the release.

ARQ 531 bolsters Merck’s lineup as analysts call for the pharma giant to diversify its revenue drivers. Keytruda has served as Merck’s blockbuster medicine since it was first approved for cancer treatment in 2014.

ArQule closed at $US9.66 per share Friday, up 249% year-to-date. The company has 11 “buy” ratings, no “hold” ratings, and no “sell” ratings from analysts, with a consensus price target of $US13.73, according to Bloomberg data.

Merck closed at $US88.85, up 16% year-to-date. The firm has 16 “buy” ratings, three “hold” ratings, and no “sell” ratings from analysts, with a consensus price target of $US97.75.


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