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Gilead’s $5.1B Galapagos deal threads the needle between M&A and licensing

How Gilead structured its 10-year tie-up with Galapagos to prevent the brain drain that follows acquisitions

The structure of Gilead’s partnership with Galapagos gives the U.S. biotech access to all of Galapagos’ programs, without the brain drain that followed its acquisition of Kite.

Human capital was the driver behind Gilead Sciences Inc.’s decision to stop short of acquiring the inflammation and fibrosis company, and instead enter a 10-year option agreement covering nearly all of Galapagos N.V.’s current and future pipeline programs.

“We didn’t want to do something where we would likely lose those people,” Gilead’s EVP of Strategy and Corporate Development Andrew Dickinson told BioCentury.

It’s not uncommon for senior leaders to depart after an acquisition, which Gilead recently experienced, having had to fill the shoes of Kite Pharma Inc.’s former CEO and CMO six months after it acquired the CAR T company.

Rather than lose Galapagos’ best R&D talent, the new deal is structured to enable the Belgian biotech to dramatically ramp up the size of its R&D group. Galapagos’ $5.1 billion windfall comprises a $3.95 billion cash infusion and $1.1 billion equity stake.

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