Ligand scoops up Pfenex for up to $516M, adding proteins to their antibody chickens and delivery tech

The technology hunting folks over at Ligand Pharmaceuticals have picked up a new one from across town, for a significant price.

Ligand has acquired fellow San Diego-based biotech Pfenex and their protein expression platform for $438 million cash, plus $78 million in contingent value agreements should an undisclosed milestone be hit before the end of next year.  The deal pays $12 per share, or $4.34 more than what Pfenex had been trading at before the announcement.

For Ligand, the new acquisition adds another platform to a portfolio and a business model that has turned a biotech that as recently as 2005 was delisted from the Nasdaq and as recently as 2007 experienced a CEO-ousting a shareholder revolt into a $1.9 billion company. Basically, they acquired and developed a series of platforms — including antibody-producing mice and bispecific antibody-producing chicken and several drug delivery methods — and license those out to other companies for fees and milestones. The