Ablynx Rises on Drug Licensing Deal With AbbVie: Brussels Mover

Ablynx NV, 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. for as much as $840 million.

Ablynx climbed 11 percent to 8.27 euros in Brussels, the highest since July 2011. More than 2.7 million shares were traded, the most since the company’s initial public offering in 2007. The stock has returned 90 percent in the past year, compared with a 20 percent gain from the benchmark Bel20 Index, including reinvested dividends.

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 for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the two companies said in a statement today. Ablynx could earn additional payments of as much $665 million in payments linked to development and sales, 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’s Actemra. Ablynx will be responsible for completing the so-called phase-two studies, after which AbbVie will take over development of the drug.

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