Assembly Biosciences reports chronic hepatitis data, shares jump

Assembly Biosciences announces presentation of ABI-H0731, ABI-H2158 data

Assembly Biosciences (ASMB) announced that data on its lead HBV core inhibitor candidates, ABI-H0731 and ABI-H2158 for the treatment of chronic HBV will be featured in a late-breaking poster session during the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Annual Meeting.

Shares jump on hepatitis data, Stockwinners

A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an “acute infection” (or a new infection). Most healthy adults that are infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some adults are unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a “chronic infection.”

Title: Continued Therapy with ABI-H0731+Nrtl Results in Sequential Reduction/Loss of HBV DNA, HBV RNA, HBeAg, HBcrAg and HBsAg in HBeAg-Positive Patients.

Abstract Summary: Final results from Phase 2a are reported for HBeAg+ patients with chronic HBV infection treated with 731+Nrtl for 24 weeks.

In Study 202, greater mean log10 declines in HBV DNA and RNA were achieved with 731+Nrtl versus entecavir alone.

In Study 201, the proportion of patients on 731+Nrtl versus Nrtl alone achieving DNA target not detected was 69% vs 0%, and the proportion of patients achieving RNA less than35 U/mL whose RNA was greater than or equal to35 U/mL at baseline was 52% vs 0% respectively.

In Study 211, there are 64 HBeAg+ patients currently on extended treatment beyond 24 weeks. Among the 27 HBeAg+ patients receiving 731+Nrtl in Study 201, 41% have now achieved DNA TND along with RNA less than35 U/mL and HBeAg less than1 IU/mL.

At their last time point, Study 202 patients now in Study 211 have demonstrated mean DNA and RNA declines of 6.1 and 3.0 logs, respectively, with observed mean log changes of greater than or equal to 0.6 for HBeAg, greater than 0.8 log for HBcrAg and greater than or equal to 0.4 log for HBsAg.

731 continues to exhibit a favorable safety and tolerability profile in patients treated for up to 1 year, with only mild/moderate adverse events and lab abnormalities, and only a single discontinuation due to a Grade 1 rash.

The combination of 731+NrtI results in faster and deeper declines in HBV DNA and RNA than NrtI alone, as well as subsequent declines in the surrogate markers of cccDNA predictive of cccDNA pool depletion, and HBsAg.

A Visual Guide to Hepatitis, Stockwinners

The emergent data supports the continued development of 731.

Abstract data are as of the time of submission; the poster is expected to include updated safety and efficacy results. Title: The Second-Generation Hepatitis B Virus Core Inhibitor ABI-H2158 is Associated with Potent Antiviral Activity in a 14-Day Monotherapy Study in HBeAg-positive Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B.

Abstract Summary: The Phase 1b study is enrolling sequential cohorts of 9 patients and each cohort will be randomized to receive 2158 or placebo QD for 14 days in a blinded manner.

Dosing in the 1st cohort has been completed. In patients receiving 2158, mean declines from Baseline to Day 15 in HBV DNA and RNA levels were 2.3 log10 and 2.1 log10 IU/mL respectively.

No serious AEs, dose limiting toxicities or premature discontinuations were reported.

Three patients reported a total of 5 mild, drug-related AEs that recovered without intervention; dizziness, fatigue, rash, headache and upper abdominal pain.

Treatment emergent laboratory abnormalities were infrequent, mild and transient, with no ALT elevations Grade greater than or equal to 1 in severity.

Day 14 plasma 2158 Cmax and AUC0-24hr were 3,390 ng/mL and 46,100 hr*ng/mL, respectively.

Results from the initial 100 mg low dose of ABI-H2158 cohort demonstrated potent antiviral activity, a favourable safety profile when administered for 14 days, and support once daily dosing in CHB patients.

Circor receives $1.7B takeover offer

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash

Crane proposes to acquire Circor for $45.00 per share in cash, Stockwinners

Crane Co. (CR) announced that it has submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors of CIRCOR International (CIR) to acquire CIRCOR for $45 per share in cash.

CIRCOR International, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets engineered products and sub-systems worldwide. It operates through three segments: Energy, Aerospace and Defense, and Industrial. 

The proposal represents a 47% premium over yesterday’s closing price and a 37% and 51% premium over a three- and six-month volume weighted average share price, respectively.

This reflects an enterprise value of approximately $1.7B at a multiple of approximately 13.5x the last 12-month adjusted EBITDA. Crane Co. proposed the all-cash transaction to CIRCOR’s President and CEO Scott Buckhout on April 30, the terms of which were confirmed by a letter to the CIRCOR Board of Directors.

On May 13, the CIRCOR Board summarily rejected Crane Co.’s proposal with no offer of discussions or due diligence.

“While we had hoped to complete a transaction privately, the Board’s rejection of our proposal without comment or discussion led to our decision to make our proposal known to CIRCOR shareholders so they can express their views directly to the CIRCOR Board,” said Max Mitchell, Crane Co. President and CEO.

“Our proposal provides CIRCOR shareholders with attractive value and certainty compared to the continued uncertainty surrounding CIRCOR’s plans to improve operating performance.

Based on CIRCOR’s history of underperformance and inability to meet its own financial targets, we believe CIRCOR’s standalone plan is unlikely to generate value comparable to what we are proposing.”

Mitchell continued, “We believe that this business, which has great brands and products, has been meaningfully undermanaged for years.

This has resulted in a persistent decline in CIRCOR’s share price, making it the worst performer of the peers in the S&P Midcap Capital Goods Index since the end of 2013.

Based upon the strength of our disciplined operating approach, Crane Co. is well positioned to integrate CIRCOR’s businesses into our focused portfolio, realize operational synergies, and deliver long-term value to Crane shareholders.

Combining CIRCOR’s Fluid Handling, Aerospace and Defense assets with Crane’s portfolio of leading brands would create a stronger competitor with additional scale and growth potential.”

CIR +13.49 to $44.15.

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Kforce Government Solutions sold for $115 million

ManTech to acquire Kforce Government Solutions for $115M

KForce sold for $115 million, Stockwinners

ManTech (MANT) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kforce Government Solutions, or KGS, formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kforce (KFRC) for $115M in cash.

Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, KGS provides technology solutions, transformation management, data management and analytics in support of federal health and defense missions.

KGS has built a legacy of success with its customers particularly within the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA.

The acquisition adds over 500 employees to the ManTech team. In 2018, KGS generated approximately $98M of revenue and has profitability comparable to ManTech.

The combination will substantially increase ManTech’s footprint at the VA and enable ManTech to deliver services through the VA’s Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation, or T4NG, program.

The T4NG program is a 10-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract awarded by the VA Technology Acquisition Center to help the VA transform its information technology programs.

ManTech will fund the acquisition from cash on hand with additional funding from its existing line of credit. ManTech expects the acquisition to be slightly accretive to earnings per share in 2019.

The acquisition is subject to various closing conditions and approvals, including approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, and is expected to be completed in March.

David L. Dunkel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented, “Our federal government solutions business has been a meaningful part of our business since our initial government acquisition in 2006. I am immensely proud of the success that our KGS management team has had in growing and positioning this business for continued future success despite the competitive challenges it has faced, given its scale.

We are excited for our KGS management team and associates to join forces with ManTech, which we expect will enhance KGS’s competitive positioning and leverage its deep and long-standing customer relationships to drive further growth. We firmly believe in the strong secular drivers within the commercial technology space and, with this divestiture, virtually all of our revenues are derived from domestic professional and technical staffing services and solutions.”


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Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa in deal valued at $5.1B

Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners
Coca-Cola to acquire Costa for $5.1B, Stockwinners

Coca-Cola (KO) announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Costa Limited.

The acquisition of Costa from parent company Whitbread PLC is valued at $5.1B and will give Coca-Cola a strong coffee platform across parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, with the opportunity for additional expansion.

Costa operations include a leading brand, nearly 4,000 retail outlets with highly trained baristas, a coffee vending operation, for-home coffee formats and Costa’s state-of-the-art roastery.

For Coca-Cola, the expected acquisition adds a scalable coffee platform with critical know-how and expertise in a fast-growing, on-trend category. Costa has a solid presence with Costa Express, which offers barista-quality coffee in a variety of on-the-go locations, including gas stations, movie theaters and travel hubs.

Costa, in various formats, has the potential for further expansion with customers across the Coca-Cola system. The acquisition will expand the existing Coca-Cola coffee lineup by adding another leading brand and platform. The portfolio already includes the market-leading Georgia brand in Japan, plus coffee products in many other countries.

The purchase price is approximately $5.1B.

Upon the closing, Coca-Cola will acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Costa Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitbread. This subsidiary contains all of the existing operating businesses of Costa.

Whitbread will be seeking shareholder approval for the transaction, which is expected to take place by mid-October.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust approvals in the European Union and China.

It is expected to close in the first half of 2019. Coca-Cola expects the transaction to be slightly accretive in the first full year, not taking into account any impact from purchase accounting.

For FY18, Costa generated revenue and EBITDA of roughly $1.7B in revenue and $312M in EBITDA.

Because Coca-Cola expects the transaction to close in the first half of 2019, there is no change to 2018 guidance.

The company’s long-term targets also remain unchanged.


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MoviePass raises prices

Helios and Matheson says MoviePass accelerating plan for profitability

MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners
MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners

MoviePass, a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), announced the implementation of several new measures aimed at accelerating the plan for profitability.

Through these new steps, the company believes it will be able to compress its timeline to reach profitability.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of introducing its standard $9.95 price point, the MoviePass community has grown to more than 3 million members and in turn has contributed to record box office growth, responsible for approximately 6 percent of the nation’s total box office sales in the first half of 2018.

In addition, MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films are contributing to the company’s ancillary revenue. The company has implemented several elements of a long-term growth plan to protect the existing community and set it up for future sustainable growth.

MoviePass has implemented several new cost-reduction and subscription revenue increase measures: Actions that have been implemented are currently cutting the monthly burn by 60%.

A future increase of the standard pricing plan to $14.95 per month within the next 30 days.

First Run Movies opening on 1,000+ Screens to be limited in their availability during the first two weeks, unless made available on a promotional basis, Implementation of additional tactics to prevent abuse of the MoviePass service.

As of Q3 and beyond, MoviePass is also generating incremental non-subscription revenue of approximately $4 to $6 per subscriber per quarter: Integration of MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films with our own original content allows us to gain revenue by owning the films through box office, streaming, DVD, retail, transactional sales e.g. Apple and Samsung, and international rights, etc.

Partnerships with 3rd party media inventory to increase scale and reach of marketing efforts driven by data. Continued rollout and refinement of the Peak Pricing program.

Creating strategic marketing partnerships and promotions with studios, content owners, and brands. Integration of Moviefone.Com to support the media buys of brands and studios.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the MoviePass mission, to enhance discovery, and to drive attendance to smaller films and bolster the independent film community, MoviePass will begin to limit ticket availability to Blockbuster films. This change has already begun rolling out, with Mission Impossible 6 being the first film included in the measure.

This is a strategic move by the company to both limit cash burn and stay loyal to its mission to empower the smaller artistic film communities.

Major studios will continue to be able to partner with MoviePass to promote their first run films, seeding them with a valuable moviegoing audience.

HMNY is up 7 cents to $0.88.


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Supervalu sold for $2.9 billion

United Natural Foods to acquire Supervalu for $32.50 per share in cash, or $2.9B

Supervalu sold for $32.50 per share in cash, or $2.9B, Stockwinners
Supervalu sold for $32.50 per share in cash, or $2.9B, Stockwinners

United Natural Foods (UNFI) and SUPERVALU (SVU) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which UNFI will acquire SUPERVALU for $32.50 per share in cash, or approximately $2.9B, including the assumption of outstanding debt and liabilities.

UNFI expects to finance the transaction substantially with debt and Goldman Sachs provided committed financing in the transaction.

Over time, UNFI plans to divest SUPERVALU retail assets in a thoughtful and economic manner. Upon closing, UNFI’s net debt-to-EBITDA ratio is expected to be high.

With strong cash flows, proceeds from divestitures and commitment to reducing debt, the company anticipates reducing leverage by at least two full turns in the first three years.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is subject to antitrust approvals, SUPERVALU shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2018.

UNFI Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Steven Spinner will lead the combined entity. Sean Griffin, UNFI Chief Operating Officer, will lead the SUPERVALU integration efforts, post close and lead an integration committee comprised of executives from both companies to drive the implementation of best practices from each company and the delivery of important synergies and a rapid and smooth integration.

UNFI closed at $41.18.


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Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google

Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google for cloud storage

Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google, Stockwinners
Dropbox drops as Facebook mulls switch to Google, Stockwinners

Shares of Dropbox (DBX) fell in morning trading following a report that said Facebook (FB) is considering moving its cloud storage away from the file hosting service.

FACEBOOK CONSIDERING SWITCH

Facebook is considering switching to Google (GOOG, GOOGL) for email and productivity applications, The Information reported earlier, citing two people with knowledge of the discussions.

The move would be a setback for Microsoft (MSFT), whose applications Facebook currently uses. Facebook, which has about 27,000 employees, stopped using Google apps inside the company several years ago. Additionally, Facebook is also considering moving its cloud storage to Google from Dropbox, according to The Information.

WHAT’S NOTABLE

Last month, Dropbox announced a new chapter in the evolution of Magic Pocket, its custom-built storage infrastructure, saying it is deploying Shingled Magnetic Recording, or SMR, drive technology to increase overall storage density, reduce the company’s physical data center footprint and provide significant cost savings without sacrificing performance or reliability.

Dropbox said at the time that it expects to have a quarter of its Magic Pocket infrastructure on SMR drive capacity by 2019. In its debut earnings report, Dropbox reported revenue of $316.3M, up 28% from the year-ago period.

PRICE ACTION

Shares of Dropbox are down about 4% to $31.03 in morning trading following the report.


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Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved

Bristol-Myers’ Opdivo approved for MSI-H/dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners
Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners

Bristol-Myers (BMY) announced Opdivo – nivolumab – 3 mg/kg plus low-dose Yervoy – ipilimumab – 1 mg/kg injections for intravenous use received approval from the FDA for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older with microsatellite instability high or mismatch repair deficient metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan.

Approval for this indication has been granted under accelerated approval.

Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

The application was granted Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA.

Among the 82 patients who received prior treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan, 46% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy.

The percentage of these patients with a complete response was 3.7%, and the percentage of patients with a partial response was 43%.

Among these 38 responders, the median DOR was not reached; 89% of those patients had responses of six months or longer, and 21% had responses of 12 months or longer.

This trial is ongoing. Among all enrolled patients, 49% responded to treatment with Opdivo + Yervoy; 4.2% experienced a complete response, while 45% experienced a partial response.

Opdivo was discontinued in 13% of patients and delayed in 45% of patients due to an adverse reaction.

Serious adverse reactions occurred in 47% of patients.

The Opdivo + Yervoy combination is also approved in two other tumor types, advanced renal cell carcinoma and unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

Continued approval for these accelerated approval indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

BMY closed at $56.18.


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Carbon-free aluminum smelting process now a reality

Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Apple  announce ‘world’s first’ carbon-free aluminum smelting process 

carbon-free aluminum smelting process; Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process; 

Alcoa (AA) and Rio Tinto (RIO) announced what the companies called “a revolutionary process to make aluminum that produces oxygen and eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.”

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

To advance larger scale development and commercialization of the new process, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are forming Elysis, a joint venture company to further develop the new process with a technology package planned for sale beginning in 2024.

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

Apple (AAPL) is also investing in the venture. Apple said that its involvement with the new process started in 2015, when Apple engineers came across the new technology at Alcoa in Pittsburgh when looking for a cleaner way to mass-produce aluminum. They were able to get Rio Tinto on board, and three years later, the three companies have formed a joint venture.

Elysis, which will be headquartered in Montreal with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, will develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities. Canada and Quebec are each investing C$60M in Elysis.

The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5% equity stake in the joint venture with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Apple is providing an investment of C$13M.

The company helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto on the carbon-free smelting process, and Apple has agreed to provide technical support to the JV partners.

Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest C$55M cash over the next three years and contribute specific intellectual property and patents.

The patent-protected technology, developed by Alcoa, is currently producing metal at the Alcoa Technical Center, near Pittsburgh in the United States, where the process has been operating at different scales since 2009.

The joint venture intends to invest up to C$40M in the United States, which would include funding to support the supply chain for the proprietary anode and cathode materials.


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Tesla falls after NTSB rebuke about fatal crash

UPDATED with Model 3 Production Data

Tesla falls after NTSB rebuke about fatal crash, CEO jokes about bankruptcy

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Tesla falls after NTSB rebuke about fatal crash

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) are lower after the company acknowledged that its autopilot function was involved in a fatal crash that occurred with one of its vehicles and its CEO Elon Musk tweeted on April Fool’s that “Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt.”

With the quarter coming to an end, Tesla is expected to report production and deliveries results within a few days.

AUTOPILOT INVOLVED IN FATAL CRASH

In a blog post late Friday, Tesla acknowledged that its autopilot function was involved in a fatal crash that occurred with one of its vehicles.

“In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.

The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.

The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced.

Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year
Tesla Model 3 named Popular Mechanics’ Car of the Year

We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.

Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the U.S. government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40%.

Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability.

In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware.

If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur.

It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists,” the company said.

Over the weekend, Reuters reported that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board was “unhappy” that Tesla made public information about the crash of its Model X vehicle that killed the driver last month.

APRIL FOOL’S

After teasing on Twitter that important news was coming, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on April 1, “Tesla Goes Bankrupt Palo Alto, California, April 1, 2018 — Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it… There are many chapters of bankruptcy and, as critics so rightly pointed out, Tesla has them *all*, including Chapter 14 and a half (the worst one)…Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by “Teslaquilla” bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.

This is not a forward-looking statement, because, obviously, what’s the point? Happy New Month!”

WHAT’S NOTABLE

In a research note to investors this morning, Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois upgraded Tesla to Hold from Underperform with an unchanged price target of $250.

The analyst noted that Tesla shares are down 32% from their September 2017 peak and that he sees a “high probability” that management and the board, when releasing first quarter unit data this week, take “more drastic action” on guidance and funding to “restore credibility.”

At the current stock price, either would be positive, Houchois contended.

The analyst believes “higher than consensus” dilution from a capital raise could be positive for the shares, if it “credibly de-risked” the Model 3 production ramp up.

Stockwinners believes this is a good place to open a position in Tesla.

MODEL 3  PRODUCTION DATA

In an email to employees today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Model 3 passed a production rate of 2,000 per week in Q1, Ryan Felton of Jalopnik reports.

In January, Tesla projected it would make 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of the quarter, Felton points out.

It has been “extremely difficult” to pass the 2,000 vehicle per week rate for the Model 3, “but we are finally here,” Musk wrote in the email obtained by Felton.

PRICE ACTION

In Monday morning’s trading, shares of Tesla have dropped 7% to $247.39.


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A. Schulman sold for $2.25B

LyondellBasell to acquire A. Schulman for $2.25B

LyondellBasell to acquire A. Schulman for $2.25B. Stockwinners.com
LyondellBasell to acquire A. Schulman for $2.25B.

LyondellBasell (LYB) and A. Schulman (SHLM) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which LyondellBasell will acquire A. Schulman for a total consideration of $2.25B.

The acquisition builds upon LyondellBasell’s existing platform in this space to create a premier Advanced Polymer Solutions business with broad geographic reach, leading technologies and a diverse product portfolio.

Under the terms of the agreement, LyondellBasell will acquire A. Schulman for a total consideration of $2.25B.

LyondellBasell will purchase 100% of A. Schulman common stock for $42 per share in cash and one contingent value right per share and assume outstanding debt and certain other obligations.

In addition, the contingent value rights generally will provide a holder with an opportunity to receive certain net proceeds, if any are recovered, from certain ongoing litigation and government investigations relating to A. Schulman’s Citadel and Lucent acquisitions. LyondellBasell is using cash-on-hand to finance the acquisition.

LyondellBasell expects to achieve $150M in run-rate cost synergies within two years, primarily by leveraging its well-established approach to cost discipline and productivity, as well as its culture of operational, business and commercial excellence.

Further, the acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings within the first full year following close.

The combined businesses had revenues of $4.6B and adjusted EBITDA of $446M over the last 12 months.

The proposed acquisition, which has been unanimously approved by the respective boards of LyondellBasell and A. Schulman, is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by A. Schulman shareholders.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2018.


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Kroger sells convenience store business for $2.15B

Kroger to sell convenience store business unit to EG Group for $2.15B

Kroger to sell convenience store business unit for $2.15B. Stockwinners.com
Kroger to sell convenience store business unit for $2.15B 

Kroger (KR) and EG Group, a privately-held petrol forecourt convenience store retailer based in Blackburn, Lancashire, United Kingdom, announced a definitive agreement for the sale of Kroger’s convenience store business unit to EG Group for $2.15B.

Kroger’s convenience store business generated revenue of $4B, including selling 1.2 billion gallons of fuel, in 2016. Kroger’s supermarket fuel centers and its Turkey Hill Dairy are not included in the sale.

Kroger announced in October 2017 its intention to explore strategic alternatives for its convenience store business, including a potential sale, in conjunction with the “Restock Kroger” plan.

The company expects the transaction to close quickly as EG Group has no U.S. presence today. The companies expect to close the transaction during the first quarter of Kroger’s fiscal year.

As part of the agreement, EG Group will establish their North American headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio and continue to operate stores under their established banner names.

Kroger plans to use net proceeds from the sale to repurchase shares and to lower its net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio.


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MediciNova reports positive MS data

MediciNova’s MN-166 shows positive risk reduction in progressive MS

MediciNova reports positive MS data. Stockwinners.com
MediciNova reports positive MS data

MediciNova (MNOV) announced the presentation of additional positive clinical data from the SPRINT-MS Phase 2b Trial of MN-166 – ibudilast – in progressive multiple sclerosis, conducted through the National Institutes of Health-sponsored NeuroNEXT network.

MN-166 demonstrated a 26% reduction in the risk of confirmed disability progression compared to placebo.

Confirmed disability progression was a secondary endpoint in this Phase 2b trial but would be considered a primary endpoint in Phase 3.

MediciNova’s power analysis has determined that a Phase 3 trial of MN-166 that enrolls approximately 700 subjects will be sufficiently powered to achieve statistical significance for confirmed disability progression.

As reported in October 2017, the SPRINT-MS Phase 2b Trial of MN-166 in progressive MS achieved both primary endpoints. MN-166 (ibudilast) demonstrated a statistically significant 48% reduction in the rate of progression of whole brain atrophy compared to placebo, and demonstrated a favorable safety and tolerability profile.

The most common treatment-emergent adverse events during the study were gastrointestinal adverse events, which occurred with a higher frequency in the MN-166 group, and upper respiratory tract infections, which occurred with a higher frequency in the placebo group.

The MN-166 (ibudilast) portfolio, which includes the Phase 2-staged lead drug compound and proprietary analogs, represents novel, first-in-class, non-opioid drugs for the treatment of drug addiction, progressive multiple sclerosis and pain.

MN-166 is a first-in-class, orally bioavailable, small molecule glial attenuator that suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1ß, TNF-a, and IL-6, and may upregulate the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.

MNOV closed at $8.32.


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Alibaba buys a third of Ant Financial 

Alibaba to take 33% equity stake in Ant Financial 

Alibaba to take 33% equity in Ant Financial. Stockwinners.com
Alibaba to take 33% equity in Ant Financial

Alibaba Group (BABA) and Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group announced that pursuant to 2014 transaction agreements, Alibaba will acquire a 33% equity interest in Ant Financial.

The parties have agreed to certain amendments to their 2014 transaction agreements to facilitate the transaction.

Under the terms of the amended agreements, Alibaba will acquire newly-issued equity from Ant Financial in exchange for certain intellectual property rights owned by Alibaba exclusively related to Ant Financial. There will be no cash impact to Alibaba following completion of the transaction.

Upon closing, the companies will terminate the current profit-sharing arrangement under which Ant Financial pays royalty and technology service fees in an amount equal to 37.5% of its pre-tax profits to Alibaba.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, said, “This transaction is a significant step for Alibaba to enhance our long-term strategic relationship with Ant Financial as we continue to pursue our mission to make it easy to do business anywhere.

Importantly, an equity stake in Ant Financial enables Alibaba and our shareholders to participate in the future growth of the financial technology sector, as well as the benefits of user growth and improved customer experience.”

The transaction was reviewed and approved by a committee of non-executive directors, the majority of whom are independent under NYSE rules, the audit committee of Alibaba’s board and the full Alibaba board of directors.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions. Alibaba will acquire the equity interest in Ant Financial through a Chinese domestic subsidiary.

Morrison & Foerster and King & Wood Mallesons acted as legal advisors, Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor and PricewaterhouseCoopers acted as tax advisor to the Alibaba Independent Committee.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Sidley Austin LLP and Fangda Partners acted as legal advisors to Ant Financial.


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Cascadian Therapeutics sold for $614 million

Seattle Genetics to acquire Cascadian Therapeutics for $10.00 per share in cash

Cascadian Therapeutics sold for $10 per share. Stockwinners.com
Cascadian Therapeutics sold for $10 per share

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Cascadian Therapeutics (CASC) announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which Seattle Genetics has agreed to acquire Cascadian Therapeutics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will pay $10.00 per share in cash, or approximately $614M.

The transaction was unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies.

Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Seattle Genetics will commence a tender offer on or about February 8, 2018 to acquire all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Cascadian Therapeutics for $10 per share in cash.

This represents a 69 percent premium to the closing price of Cascadian Therapeutics’ common stock on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, and a 139 percent premium to its 30-day volume weighted average stock price.

The tender offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including the tender of at least a majority of the outstanding shares of Cascadian Therapeutics common stock and the expiration or early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Following the closing of the tender offer, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seattle Genetics will merge with and into Cascadian Therapeutics, with each share of Cascadian Therapeutics common stock that has not been tendered being converted into the right to receive the same $10 per share in cash offered in the tender offer.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2018. In connection with the transaction, Seattle Genetics has secured a financing commitment in the amount of $400 million from Barclays and JPMorgan-Chase Bank.

The balance of the consideration will be provided from cash on hand.

CASC closed at $5.90.


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