BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cerevel Therapeutics, Inc., a company dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the brain to treat neuroscience diseases, and Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp II (Nasdaq: ARYBU), a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC, sponsored by Perceptive Advisors, today announced they have entered into a definitive business combination agreement. Upon closing of the transaction, Arya II will redomicile as a Delaware corporation, be renamed Cerevel Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. and its common stock is expected to be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “CERE”.
In addition to the approximately $150 million held in Arya II’s trust account (assuming no redemptions are effected), a group of premier healthcare investors has committed to participate in the transaction through a common stock PIPE of approximately $320 million at $10 per share. Investors in the PIPE include lead investor Perceptive Advisors, an affiliate of Arya II’s sponsor, as well as Adage Capital Management, Ally Bridge Group, Boxer Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Federated Hermes Kaufmann Small Cap Fund, Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC, Invus Public Equities, L.P., Novalis LifeSciences, RA Capital Management, funds managed by Rock Springs Capital, Sphera Healthcare, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and existing Cerevel Therapeutics shareholders including Bain Capital and Pfizer Inc.
The Combined Company is expected to receive net proceeds of approximately $445 million at the closing of the transaction (assuming no redemptions are effected) and will continue to operate under the Cerevel Therapeutics management team, led by Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Tony Coles, M.D. The boards of directors of both Arya II and Cerevel Therapeutics have approved the proposed transaction. Completion of the transaction, which is expected by the fourth quarter of 2020, is subject to approval of Arya II’s shareholders and the satisfaction or waiver of certain other customary closing conditions.
“Cerevel is using novel approaches in its quest to bring new treatments to patients living with neuroscience diseases, and today we are bringing that same spirit of innovation to our plans for becoming a public company,” said Tony Coles, M.D. “Since our founding as a joint collaboration between Bain Capital and Pfizer, Cerevel has pushed the boundaries to tackle some of the most vexing questions in neuroscience, using science to target the specific receptor sub-types involved in causing these devastating diseases. Over the next twelve months, we expect to have initiated at least six clinical programs across multiple indications, including schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. Today’s announcement ensures that we have access to the capital we will need to advance our clinical programs through to several key milestones in our quest to bring these therapies to patients.”
Adam Stone, chief investment officer of Perceptive Advisors and CEO of Arya II, stated: “We believe neuroscience represents the next era of innovation in biopharma. Cerevel has the potential to be a science and data-driven premier neuroscience company, making it precisely the type of opportunity that Arya II was designed to combine with.” Adam Stone further commented: “Our goal when we formed Arya II was to identify a company that had a differentiated approach to developing medicines, was ready to be public and was led by a highly experienced management team. This is exactly what we saw in Cerevel. We are excited about the potential their medicines represent – to both patients and investors.”
“With the founding of Cerevel, Bain Capital and Pfizer had a vision of creating a preeminent neuroscience company, with the leadership and capabilities to open new frontiers in the treatment of neurological diseases,” said Adam Koppel, managing director of Bain Capital Life Sciences. “Today is an important milestone in the exciting journey to realize that vision.”
“The dedication and expertise of Cerevel’s management team has guided the company as it has made significant progress advancing its neuroscience portfolio,” said Doug Giordano, senior vice president and head of worldwide business development, Pfizer. “We are proud to continue to support Cerevel as it moves into this next phase, which will help provide the company with the financial resources necessary to continue its clinical development programs and preclinical research, further strengthening its potential to deliver treatments to patients with devastating conditions.”
Proceeds of the business combination and PIPE will be used to support Cerevel Therapeutics’ research and development programs, including:
- CVL-231, a positive allosteric modulator, or PAM, that selectively targets M4, the muscarinic acetylcholine 4 receptor subtype. Cerevel Therapeutics is currently in an ongoing Phase 1b multiple ascending dose trial for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, with data expected in the second half of 2021.
- CVL-865, a PAM that selectively targets the alpha-2/3/5 subunits of the GABAA receptor. Based on previous results, Cerevel Therapeutics plans to initiate a Phase 2 proof-of-concept trial for drug-resistant focal onset epilepsy in the second half of 2020, with data expected in the second half of 2022. Cerevel Therapeutics also plans to initiate a Phase 1 proof-of-principle trial of CVL-865 for acute anxiety in the second half of 2020, with data expected in the second half of 2021.
- Tavapadon, a selective dopamine D1/D5 partial agonist which will be evaluated in several Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of early- and late-stage Parkinson’s disease both as a monotherapy and an adjunct to levodopa in patients experiencing motor fluctuations. Cerevel Therapeutics initiated a registration-directed Phase 3 program for tavapadon beginning in January 2020, which will include two trials in early-stage Parkinson’s, one trial in late-stage Parkinson’s and an open-label safety extension trial. Initial data readouts from the Phase 3 program are expected in the first half of 2023.
Cerevel Therapeutics will also use the funding, in part, to:
- Further develop its other ongoing clinical programs and preclinical portfolio with potential to address a range of neuroscience diseases, including apathy in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia and substance use disorder;
- Opportunistically expand its current pipeline programs into synergistic indications supported by compelling scientific and medical rationale;
- Utilize the latest drug discovery and genomics technologies, such as artificial intelligence and DNA-encoded chemical libraries, to efficiently identify new therapeutic molecules, including those with disease-modifying potential; and
- Bolster the continued build-out of internal discovery capabilities, enhance business development activities and support general corporate activities.
Since its founding in 2018, Cerevel Therapeutics has assembled a seasoned team with expertise in neuroscience research, development, regulatory affairs, operations, manufacturing and commercialization. Its executive team comprises industry leaders who have collectively contributed to more than 20 new drug approvals at Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, NPS Pharmaceuticals, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Sangamo Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Summary of Transaction
Current Cerevel Therapeutics shareholders and holders of vested equity awards are converting 100% of their existing equity interests into shares or equivalent awards of the Combined Company at an implied Cerevel Therapeutics equity value of $780 million. Current shareholders of Arya II are converting their ordinary shares and warrants of Arya II into common stock and warrants of the Combined Company on a one for one basis. Assuming that no Arya II shareholders elect to redeem their shares and no Arya II warrants are exercised, and taking into account their participation in the PIPE, Bain Capital and Pfizer Inc., the current shareholders of Cerevel Therapeutics, will own approximately 69% of the Combined Company after closing. Further assuming a share price of $10.00 per share, the Combined Company is expected to have an initial market capitalization of approximately $1.3 billion. Upon closing, it is expected that the Combined Company’s common stock will be publicly traded on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the ticker symbol “CERE.”
Additional information about the transaction will be provided in a Current Report on Form 8-K that will contain an investor presentation to be filed by Arya II with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and will be available at www.sec.gov. In addition, Arya II intends to file a registration statement on Form S-4 with the SEC, which will include a proxy statement/prospectus, and will file other documents regarding the proposed transaction with the SEC.
Morgan Stanley is acting as lead capital markets advisor to Cerevel Therapeutics, with Evercore and Stifel also acting as capital markets advisors to Cerevel Therapeutics. Jefferies LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC are acting as financial and capital markets advisors to Arya II as well as private placement agents. Goodwin Procter LLP is acting as legal counsel to Cerevel Therapeutics. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is acting as legal counsel to Arya II. Ropes & Gray LLP is acting as legal advisor to Bain Capital.
About Arya II
Arya II is a blank check company newly incorporated as a Cayman Islands exempted company for the purpose of effecting a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses or entities. Arya II is led by Chairman Joseph Edelman, Chief Executive Officer Adam Stone, Chief Financial Officer Michael Altman and Chief Business Officer Konstantin Poukalov.
About Bain Capital
Founded in 1984, Bain Capital is a leading global private investment firm with 19 offices on four continents and deep experience in healthcare. Bain Capital manages approximately $105 billion across asset classes and leverages the firm’s shared platform to capture opportunities in strategic areas of focus. Bain Capital Private Equity (www.baincapitalprivateequity.com) has partnered closely with management teams to provide the strategic resources that build great companies and help them thrive. A team of approximately 220 investment professionals creates value for portfolio companies through its global platform and depth of expertise in key vertical industries including healthcare. Bain Capital Life Sciences (www.baincapitallifesciences.com) pursues investments in biopharmaceutical, specialty pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostics and enabling life science technology companies globally. The team focuses on companies that both drive medical innovation across the value chain and enable that innovation to improve the lives of patients with unmet medical needs.
About Cerevel Therapeutics
Cerevel Therapeutics is dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the brain to treat neuroscience diseases. The company seeks to unlock the science surrounding new treatment opportunities through understanding the neurocircuitry of neuroscience diseases and associated symptoms. Cerevel Therapeutics has a diversified pipeline comprising five clinical-stage investigational therapies and several preclinical compounds with the potential to treat a range of neuroscience diseases, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and substance use disorder. Headquartered in Boston, Cerevel Therapeutics is advancing its current research and development programs while exploring new modalities through internal research efforts, external collaborations or potential acquisitions. For more information, visit www.cerevel.com.