Pharmaceutical firm agrees American merger

Pharmaceutical firm 4D pharma is to seek a NASDAQ listing after agreeing a deal with an American investor that gives it access to $14.6m (£11.1m).

The Leeds-headquartered company is to merge with Longevity Acquisition Corporation, which is a special purpose acquisition company, in a deal which values the business at £140m.

It is priced at £1.10 per 4D share, an 18% premium on last night’s closing price of 93p. However 4D’s share price is at its lowest level for nearly two months, having been as high as 183p in early October.

4D pharma was founded in 2014 and is a world leader in the development of live biotherapeutics, which are medicines that are produced from biological sources such as living organisms rather than synthesised chemicals.

Its treatments are single strains of bacteria that are naturally found in the healthy human gut. The company has six clinical studies in progress which are focused on irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatic cancer, asthma and Covid-19.

4D’s chief executive Duncan Peyton said: “Despite the tremendous operational and economic challenges in 2020 created by the global pandemic, 4D has made significant strides on a number of fronts.

“We expect that a NASDAQ Listing will allow 4D to capitalise on increased interest from US healthcare investors in recent years and provide access to a much larger pool of specialist capital, thereby increasing our global profile and exposure.”

In July 4D pharma raised £7.7m through a share placing to fund the development of its research.

As a result of the merger, 4D will benefit from the £11.1m cash held by Longevity, extending the current operational runway into the third quarter of 2021.

4D shareholders will own 86.9% of the group, which will also maintain its current listing on AIM. The deal and NASDAQ listing are expected to be completed early next year, subject to approval from shareholders and regulators.

Matthew Chen, chief executive of Longevity, said his team “reviewed many opportunities in a variety of industries” before settling on 4D.

“We are truly excited about the merger with 4D,” he said. “4D is developing promising biotherapeutics to address unmet medical needs.

“We are impressed by 4D management team’s track record in drug development and partnership building.”