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Before he became a lawyer, Latham & Watkins partner Charles Hoyng was a scientist at Genentech working to develop Activase — an important drug in the treatment of heart attacks and stroke. Through that research, Hoyng got to know the Japanese pharmaceutical funders of his company’s work. And he strengthened those ties while working for the biotech company’s legal group as a law student at Boalt Hall. The understanding he gained then of how Japanese cross-border deals are structured served the Latham & Watkins partner well last week when he signed off on a deal representing Japanese client Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Takeda, one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, acquired Syrrx Inc. for $270 million in cash in a deal expected to close by the end of March. Takeda, which already has a distribution operation near Chicago, was primarily interested in opening an American research facility, according to Hoyng and partner Ora Fisher. And the Japanese company was looking to expand its drug lineups as older patents expired. Syrrx fit the bill. The San Diego-based startup uses protein crystallography technology to obtain protein structure information used in the development of new drugs. Syrrx also has two products in early-stage clinical studies for diabetes treatment — an area of focus for Takeda. Hoyng has worked on other Japanese deals for Latham. And the firm had worked for Takeda in the past, as well as for Takeda Research Investment Inc., a U.S. investment arm providing funding to early-stage life science companies. Hoyng, who was in Japan last week attending a life science meeting of U.S. biotech companies and Japanese pharma, says the outright acquisition by the Japanese giant is different from the usual collaborations. Big pharma in Japan, as in Europe and the United States, is in a state of flux, Hoyng said, with a shortage of new products creating intense competition among multinational firms. Also representing Takeda from Latham were partners Karen Silverman, David Boatwright and Joseph Yaffe and associates Scott Milsten, John Wehrli, Amanda Weare, Mona Wang and Joshua Holian. Representing Syrrx were Cooley Godward partners Thomas Coll and Barbara Borden and associates Brandee Fernandez and Ethan Christensen. — Marie-Anne Hogarth over the ipo threshold Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. had reason to be jittery when it went public last week. Two other biotechnology companies (Favrille Inc. and Icagen Inc.) that debuted ahead of the South San Francisco company saw their stock prices drop when they entered the market. Threshold decided to slash its offering price in advance — from a $14-$16 range to $7 per share. The company sold 5.3 million shares at that price, raising $37.1 million, and its stock has held steady near its opening price since. “Threshold paused its offering last summer when the IPO markets cooled off but succeeded in getting public this year in an even more difficult environment,” said Sarah O’Dowd, a partner at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe’s Menlo Park office who represented Threshold. “It is a tribute to the company’s business and to its persistence” that it was able to go public, she said. Incorporated in 2001, Threshold is developing drugs for treatment of cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate. Its lead cancer drug, glufosfamide, is in a late clinical trial for the second-line treatment of pancreatic cancer, and a BPH drug candidate is in an early-phase clinical trial. The company’s drugs target differences in energy metabolism between normal and certain diseased cells. They are designed to selectively target tumor cells and be less toxic to healthy tissues than conventional drugs. Threshold said in its prospectus that it believed net proceeds from the offering, along with cash on hand, would be enough to fund its projected costs for at least the next two years. O’Dowd was assisted on the transaction by partner Kyle Guse and associates Stephen Thau, Amar Murugan and Natasha Leskovsek. Banc of America Securities LLC, CIBC World Markets, Lazard and William Blair & Co. underwrote the offering. Danielle Carbone, a partner in Shearman & Sterling’s New York office, represented them. — Brenda Sandburg

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