Tetraphase Said to Explore Sale After Takeover Interest

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Roche Holdings AG May Be Interested in Buying Tetraphase
Roche Holdings AG's plant in Rotkreuz, Switzerland. Tetraphase may attract interest from bidders including Actelion Ltd. and Roche Holding AG, the people said. Photographer: Philipp Schmidli/Bloomberg

Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc., a maker of antibiotics to treat serious infections, is exploring a sale after attracting interest from potential buyers, people familiar with the matter said.

The biotechnology company is working with advisers to explore its options, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Tetraphase may attract interest from bidders including Actelion Ltd. and Roche Holding AG, the people said.

As its lead product, a urinary tract infection treatment called eravacycline, has shown promise, shares of the Watertown, Massachusetts-based company have risen over 63 percent this year. Tetraphase ended regular trading this week with a market capitalization of $677 million.

The shares rose as much as 22 percent to $27 in late trading yesterday after closing at $22.09 in New York.

Large drugmakers have been snapping up biotechnology companies as they seek to build up drug pipelines. About $16.5 billion of such purchases have been announced so far this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show, five times the amount struck last year.

Roche-Intermune

The largest such deal this year is Roche’s agreement to buy InterMune Inc., an unprofitable company that’s developing a treatment for a rare lung disease, for more than $8 billion in cash. Merck & Co. agreed to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $3.58 billion in June, adding the drugmaker’s hepatitis C treatments to its portfolio.

Tetraphase Chief Executive Officer Guy Macdonald worked at Idenix until 2008. He also previously worked at Merck.

Now in phase three trials, eravacycline is being developed to be taken orally or intravenously, which helps it differentiate, according to an Oct. 7 note from Needham & Co. Similar drugs can only be taken through an IV.

The drug trial, which is also testing its efficacy on intra-abdominal infections, is expected to show data by the middle of next year.

A spokesman for Tetraphase declined to comment. Representatives for Actelion and Roche couldn’t immediately be reached to comment outside of normal business hours.

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