The German life sciences giant could shell out an additional $2 billion if the startup meets specific criteria.
Rather than folding AskBio’s operations into its own, Bayer stressed in a statement that the startup would operate independently “on an arm’s length basis.”
The acquisition could be a boon for Bayer’s drug pipeline as lawsuits and COVID-19 have caused its stock to tumble in 2020. Since the beginning of the year, the company’s stock has fallen more than 40%.
In particular, AskBio could bolster Bayer’s cell and gene therapy portfolio. The startup already has an Adeno-associated virus (AAV)–based gene therapy platform on the market. Bayer plans to tap its development and manufacturing capabilities to expand AskBio’s AAV therapeutic offerings.
The acquisition of AskBio, whose name is an abbreviation of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc., is the largest for Bayer since its purchase of Schering AG in 2006 for €14.6 billion.
In January, Bayer announced a collaboration with Exscientia on AI-based drug discovery.