Ablynx Rises on Drug Licensing Deal With AbbVie: Brussels Mover

Ablynx NV (ABLX), a Belgian developer of an experimental drug against rheumatoid arthritis, rose to the highest price in more than two years after selling rights to the treatment to AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) for as much as $840 million.

Ablynx climbed as much as 14 percent to 8.47 euros, the highest since July 2011. The shares traded 11 percent higher at 8.25 euros as of 9:34 a.m. in Brussels. The stock has almost doubled in the past year, compared with a 20 percent gain in the benchmark Bel20 Index.

AbbVie, the North Chicago-based drugmaker carved out of Abbott Laboratories at the start of the year, will pay $175 million for the rights to develop ALX-0061 in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the two companies said in a statement today. Payments linked to development and sales could make the deal worth as much as $665 million, and Ghent-based Ablynx may also receive “double-digit” royalties on revenue from the drug, the companies said.

The terms of the deal are “well beyond our initial expectations,” Jan De Kerpel, an analyst at KBC Securities in Brussels, wrote in a note today.

ALX-0061 is in the second of three stages of patient trials usually required for U.S. regulatory approval. If successful, the drug would compete with Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s Actemra. Ablynx will be responsible for completing the so-called phase-two studies, after which AbbVie will take over development of the drug.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Geneva at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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