QLT plans new name, expanded drug portfolio through Aegerion deal

VANCOUVER – QLT Inc. has a new merger partner, Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, and plans for a new name and expanded portfolio of products for the treatment of rare diseases.

Vancouver-based QLT (TSX:QLT) — once one of Canada’s leading biotechnology companies with a treatment for age-related blindness — says the merged company will have about US$100 million of unrestricted cash when the deal is done.

QLT’s current shareholders will own about 67 per cent of the combined company, to be renamed Novelion. Shareholders of Massachusetts-based Aegerion would own 33 per cent of Novelion.

The transaction is backed by a syndicate of new and existing shareholders of the two companies. The investors have committed US$22 million to QLT.

Under the deal, Aegerion shareholders will receive 1.0256 share per share (Nasdaq:AEGR). Members of the investor syndicate have agreed to vote in favour of the transaction — which requires various approvals.

Earlier deals between QLT and Pennsylvania-based Auxilium Pharmaceuticals and with California-based InSite Vision fell apart after other companies provided superior offers.

QLT and Aegerion shares were up after the announcement Wednesday. Based on recent stock prices, Aegerion has a market value of about US$54 million and QLT’s equity is worth about US$84.6 million.