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Roche-Spark Deal's Mystery Delay Makes Investors Jittery

  • Biotech investors see FTC as being nit-picky on transaction
  • Street guesses deal holdup relates to hemophilia drug
Roche Holding AG headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Roche Holding AG headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg
Updated on

Delays from the Federal Trade Commission and concerns about the timing of Roche Holding AG’s planned $4.8 billion deal to buy small-cap drug developer Spark Therapeutics Inc. are stoking concerns across Wall Street as investors question what the agency is hung-up on.

Some in the investment community argue that thanks to a more nit-picky FTC, a deal that should have been cleared with flying colors continues to be clouded with questions. Many on the Street guess that the holdup is tied to competitive concerns for Roche’s blockbuster Hemlibra, a medicine for the clotting disorder hemophilia, and a gene therapy for the disease in development from Spark.