Avigen: Proposed Merger with MediciNova Back on the Table

 |  Includes: AVGN, MNOV, SNY
by: Greenbackd

Avigen Inc (AVGN) is back in negotiations with MediciNova, Inc. (NASDAQ:MNOV) regarding a proposed acquisition of AVGN by MediciNova. The consideration for the deal is AVGN’s “net cash liquidation value plus $3 million” and “a contingent payment right for a specific product program milestone payment associated with Avigen’s Assignment Agreement with Genzyme Corporation (GENZ), potentially subject to certain adjustments.”

We started following AVGN in December last year (see archived posts here) because it was a net cash stock and specialist biotechnology investor Biotechnology Value Fund (BVF) was pushing it to liquidate and return its cash to shareholders. Despite BVF’s failure to remove the board, we continued to maintain our position in AVGN because BVF won a number of important concessions from the board that made AVGN a much more attractive stock than it was when we started following it.

The stock price reflects this: AVGN closed yesterday at $1.32, up 103.8% from our $0.65 purchase price. We last estimated the net cash liquidation value at around $34M or $1.14 per share. Including the $3M from MediciNova would increase that value to around $37M or $1.24 per share. We believe that there is a reasonable chance that AVGN will yield more than its current $1.32 share price when the “contingent payment right” capturing the near term payments from Genzyme is taken into account. AVGN shareholders also have an option-like exposure to any value in AVGN’s AV411 assets and program, although we cannot estimate the value of this with any certainty.

The press release from AVGN regarding the business combination with MediciNova is set out below:

MediciNova and Avigen Confirm Understanding for Key Terms for a Business Combination

SAN DIEGO and ALAMEDA, Calif., June 25, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — MediciNova, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that is publicly traded on the Nasdaq Global Market (Nasdaq:MNOV – News) and the Hercules Market of the Osaka Securities Exchange (Code Number:4875), and Avigen, Inc. (Nasdaq:AVGN – News), a biopharmaceutical company, today announced that they have confirmed their understanding of certain key terms for a proposed acquisition of Avigen by MediciNova that would combine the companies’ broad neurological clinical development programs based on ibudilast (Avigen’s AV-411 and MediciNova’s MN-166).

MediciNova and Avigen currently contemplate that the terms of the merger would provide that Avigen shareholders receive consideration approximating Avigen’s net cash liquidation value plus $3 million. Avigen shareholders would be able to elect to receive this consideration in cash at closing or to receive a convertible security by which that cash consideration may be converted into MediciNova stock at a conversion price equal to the greater of $4.00 or a mutually agreeable volume-weighted average price of MediciNova common stock. At the end of 18 months, any unexercised convertible securities would be paid out at their cash value. This would allow shareholders of both companies the opportunity to participate in the future value created by combining the companies’ product portfolios. In addition to the consideration above, all Avigen shareholders would receive a contingent payment right for a specific product program milestone payment associated with Avigen’s Assignment Agreement with Genzyme Corporation, potentially subject to certain adjustments.

Yuichi Iwaki, M.D., Ph.D., MediciNova’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are excited to announce this important step towards a potential acquisition of Avigen and believe that the proposed merger presents clear advantages for the shareholders of both companies, most notably, the ability to more fully take advantage of the opportunities that the ibudilast compound and analogs provide in a variety of indications and markets. We look forward to finalizing definitive documentation as expeditiously as possible and to presenting this transaction for shareholder approval in due course.”

“Avigen believes the proposed merger on the terms currently contemplated would be in the best interests of our shareholders and we intend to continue to negotiate with the goal of reaching agreement on all of the terms and presenting it to our shareholders for approval in the third quarter of 2009,” commented Andrew Sauter, Avigen’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Chief Financial Officer. “We believe that combining our ibudilast programs, AV411 and MN-166, would enhance the global development potential for the compound in a range of neurological indications, including Multiple Sclerosis, neuropathic pain and drug addiction.”

The understanding reached by the parties is nonbinding and subject to definitive documentation and due diligence. The closing of any proposed merger would also be subject to customary closing conditions, including required shareholder and regulatory approvals and the absence of material adverse changes. MediciNova and Avigen are not legally obligated to continue discussions regarding the proposed transaction on the terms described herein or on any other terms. No definitive agreements have been reached, and there can be no assurances that definitive agreements will be successfully negotiated, that the proposed terms will not be revised or that the proposed merger will be completed.

Full Disclosure: We have a holding in AVGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.