Philip Morris strikes $1.45B deal for Vectura, sending another would-be buyer back to the drawing board

A little over a week after striking an $813 million deal for oral drug delivery company Fertin Pharma, Marlboro maker Philip Morris International is doubling down on its pharma ambitions with plans to snap up inhalation-specialist-turned-CDMO Vectura. 

Philip Morris has aligned with Vectura's board to acquire the company for £852 million ($1.2 billion) in cash. The arrangement puts Vectura shareholders in line to receive 150 pence per share, marking a 46% premium on the company's 103-pence closing price on May 25, Philip Morris said in a release. 

Adding a recent dividend payment into the mix, Vectura said the deal is valued at around £1.045 billion (about $1.45 billion). The sale is expected to close in the second half of the year. 

The move follows Philip Morris' February rollout of its "Beyond Nicotine" strategy, under which the tobacco giant aims to move beyond cigarette sales and into fields such as respiratory drug delivery and "selfcare wellness."

Philip Morris is banking on "Beyond Nicotine" to deliver at least $1 billion in net revenues by 2025, CEO Jacek Olczak said in a statement. 

RELATED: Verona sells Chinese rights to inhaled drug for $40M upfront

But Philip Morris isn't Vectura's only suitor. The company in late May said it had accepted a buyout offer from prominent healthcare investment firm The Carlyle Group. In light of Philip Morris' "superior proposal" per Vectura share, Vectura's directors plan to recommend that shareholders accept the Philip Morris bid, the company said in its release. 

Philip Morris' 150 pence-per-share offer marks a roughly 10% increase over Carlyle's ex-dividend offer of 136 pence, a Vectura spokesperson said over email. 

For its part, Carlyle says it's "considering its options" and will make another announcement down the line, potentially signaling an upcoming bidding war.

RELATED: With plant-based manufacturing, GSK partner Medicago takes COVID-19 vaccine production into the greenhouse

Vectura has 13 inhaled products on the market and generated £191 million (about $245 million) in 2020 sales, Philip Morris said. Vectura has also reinvented itself as a CDMO in recent years, bringing on Catalent veteran Will Downie as CEO in late 2019. Under the proposed deal, the companies aim to forge a pipeline of both prescription and over-the-counter products, Philip Morris said. 

The Vectura purchase marks Philip Morris' second pharma acquisition of the month. On July 1, oral drug delivery specialist Fertin Pharma said it had accepted a 5.1 billion Danish krone ($813 million) buyout bid from Philip Morris, which will see the tobacco giant gain access to manufacturing and R&D sites in Denmark, Canada and India, where Fertin employs around 860.