vtaeVitae Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:VTAE) and Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Allergan will acquire Vitae for $21.00 per share, in cash, for a total transaction value of approximately $639 million, sending shares of Vitae up over 150% in pre-market trading.

The acquisition will strengthen Allergan’s dermatology product pipeline, with the addition of VTP-43742, a Phase 2 first-in-class, orally active RORγt (retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma) inhibitor for the potential treatment of psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders. VTP-43742 acts through the potent inhibition of IL-17 activity. In preclinical studies, VTP-43742 has been observed to inhibit RORγt activity, is highly selective versus other ROR isotypes and may provide a treatment that could be administered as a once-daily oral dose. The compound recently completed a Phase 2 proof-of-concept multiple ascending dose trial in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis.

The acquisition also adds VTP-38543, a topical LXRβ (Liver X Receptor beta) selective agonist for the potential treatment of atopic dermatitis. It is believed that VTP-38543 works by decreasing inflammation in damaged skin tissue and repairing the damaged outer layer of skin. VTP-38543 is currently in a Phase 2a proof-of-concept clinical trial assessing the safety, tolerability and efficacy in patients with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis.

Vitae has developed and utilizes its Contour® structure-based drug design platform to discover product candidates for validated therapeutic targets where biopharmaceutical research and development has traditionally struggled to develop drugs due to challenges related to potency, selectivity and pharmacokinetics. This has provided Vitae’s R&D team the ability to create first-in-class product candidates for challenging therapeutic targets.

“The acquisition of Vitae is a strategic investment for Allergan that adds strength and depth to our innovative medical dermatology franchise,” said Brent Saunders, CEO and President of Allergan. “Vitae has pioneered the discovery and development of highly differentiated first-in-class compounds in atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and autoimmune diseases, areas of medicine where innovation is needed for patients.”

“The Vitae team has been tremendously successful in discovering and conducting early development work in areas of medicine that can benefit from significant innovation,” said Jeff Hatfield, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vitae. “Allergan has a long track record in developing and commercializing innovative dermatologic treatments. I believe our programs will be poised for successful development as part of Allergan’s portfolio. I am very proud of the tremendous contributions of our research teams and the clinical community who have led the discovery and development of our pipeline programs, and I thank them for their dedication to this science that may one day help many patients with dermatologic conditions, autoimmune disorders and potentially other conditions.”

“Both the VTP-43742 and VTP-38543 programs offer the potential for highly differentiated mechanisms of action for the treatment of dermatologic conditions where patients are underserved by currently approved treatments,” said David Nicholson, Chief Research & Development Officer, Allergan. “In addition, Vitae’s novel Contour drug discovery platform and its team, which have been instrumental in the discovery of novel ‘difficult to drug’ compounds, will be highly complementary to Allergan’s existing R&D discovery efforts in key therapeutic areas.”

Under the terms of the merger agreement, a subsidiary of Allergan will commence a cash tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Vitae common stock for $21.00 per share. The closing of the tender offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including U.S. antitrust clearance and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Vitae common stock. The merger agreement contemplates that Allergan will acquire any shares of Vitae that are not tendered into the offer through a second-step merger, which will be completed promptly following the closing of the tender offer. Pending approvals, Allergan anticipates closing the transaction by the end of 2016.(Original Source)

On the ratings front, VTAE stock has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on September 9, Wells Fargo analyst Jim Birchenough reiterated a Buy rating on VTAE. Separately, on August 3, Wedbush’s Liana Moussatos maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $23.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Jim Birchenough and Liana Moussatos have a total average return of 18.8% and 6.9% respectively. Birchenough has a success rate of 51% and is ranked #92 out of 4163 analysts, while Moussatos has a success rate of 38% and is ranked #484.

Vitae Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Its focus is on discovering and developing novel, small molecule drugs for diseases, including chronic kidney disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and autoimmune disorders, acute coronary syndrome and immuno-oncology.