Congratulations to Dr. Arie Belldegrun and Prof. Zelig Eshhar for an incredible achievement!
Gilead Sciences agreed to 29 percent premium, which shrank fast in pretrading, despite biotech company Kite Pharma’s low revenues, heavy R&D spending and losses
Yoram Gabison Aug 29, 2017
The headquarters of Gilead Sciences in Foster City, California Credit: Eric Risberg, AP
The almost $12 billion that Gilead Sciences agreed on Monday to pay for Kite Pharma is testament not only to Israeli innovation but also to the entrepreneurship of Kite’s Israeli founder and CEO, Prof. Arie Belldegrun, and his ability to leverage a vast store of medical knowledge and Wall Street connections.
Gilead said it had agreed to pay $11.9 billion in cash for Kite, which is based in Santa Monica, California and is developing immunotherapy-based cancer treatments. That came to $180 a share, a 29 percent premium on Kite’s share price even after a strong run this year.
The gap was quickly closed with Kite shares soaring 28 percent in Nasdaq trading to $178.24.
Kite’s core technology, called eACT, was developed by Weizmann Institute of Science immunologist Prof. Zelig Eshhar together with Dr. Steven Rosenberg of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Belldegrun bought the rights to the technology and built Kite around it.
A Weizmann and Hebrew University Medical School graduate, the 67-year-old Belldegrun moved to Los Angeles at the start of his career and met Rosenberg when they were both researchers at the NIH.
While Belldegrun is a professor at the University of California Los Angles and has wide medical interests, he is first and foremost an entrepreneur, founding and selling three startups in the past decade. They include Agensys, which he sold to Astella for $537 million in 2007, and Cougar, sold to Johnson & Johnson for $1 billion.