Arcturus Therapeutics, a small San Diego biotech company, has maneuvered onto the public markets by merging with a public (and near-defunct) pharmaceutical company in Israel.
If the merger goes through, Arcturus will have a significant chunk of capital to work with and a spot on the Nasdaq. Both will be handy, as the biotech startup needs cash to develop its RNA medicines.
In the strategic transaction, Arcturus will merge with Tel Aviv-based Alcobra Ltd., a company whose product flopped in clinical trials. Although Alcobra’s science failed, the company still has about $35 million in cash on the books. To salvage some shareholder value, the public company is merging with Arcturus in hopes that the San Diego company can create some value with that capital. After the merger, the combined company will have about $40 million in cash, according to a joint press release.
For all intents and purposes, Arcturus is taking over. Alcobra’s ticker symbol will change to ARCT, the headquarters will move to San Diego, and Arcturus’ executive will lead the combined company. Alcobra shareholders will own 40 percent of the combined company, and Arcturus shareholders will own 60 percent.
The board of directors, however, will have three members picked by Alcobra and four members picked by Arcturus.
The proposed merger has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2017.
Arcturus is developing RNA medicines intended to prevent specific gene mutations from producing disease-causing proteins. Arcturus says its technology can be used to make all types of drugs that target RNA.
The company, founded in 2013, has already raised over $50 million in grants and equity deals to fuel the company’s research.