Icagen Deal Goes Through

I blogged about the initial offer from Pfizer before and that offer has now been accepted by enough shareholders that the takeover is complete. As I noted before, there was a notable amount of resistance to the deal from the investors and the threshold of shares sold was only reached after two extensions. In a conciliatory move, the remaining shareholders have a second chance to tender their shares, otherwise their money is tied up until the deal is complete, which will likely take a while.

I’ve heard some talk that Pfizer might retain the Icagen offices for a little while, but I just cannot see them keeping them for very long. They have closed sites after other takeovers, why would they retain this one? I wonder if they’ll even retain any of the employees but some of the ion channel experts might be asked to relocate to another Pfizer site. Or at least be offered the chance.

This was what happened when Lilly closed the old Sphinx site here. Sphinx operated here for several years after being acquired, but eventually the cut was announced and the folks here were offered the chance to move to Indianapolis. Some chose to go, but others, realizing they would be swapping beautiful North Carolina for somewhere else (what? local bias?), chose to stay.

So what will happen to the ex-Icagen folks that do not follow their new masters back to Groton? The hope here is that the biotech model will continue its cycle. As one company comes to a close, another is formed. Successful resolution should breed a new successful company. This is the hope. My old employer, Scynexis, was formed by the downsizing of Rhone-Poulenc when they became Aventis. There are reports of old Pfizer employees forming companies in their old site in Sandwich, England (with similar stories from other places where Pfizer has eliminated a site). Perhaps more pertinently, another Pfizer acquisition in the Research Triangle, Serenex, led to the formation of a new player in the park, Pamlico.

It is a tough time to get a business going though. Getting the initial start-up money is a challenge and I doubt the Chinese money that got Pamlico going is likely to still be flowing this way. I know of at least one small company that has survived its first 2 years here, and has even added a few employees now, but it is small steps. Good luck to them all, I say.

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