LENZ Therapeutics and Graphite Bio announce merger agreement

  • Merger to create NASDAQ-listed, late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on advancing LENZ Therapeutics’ lead assets for the treatment of presbyopia
  • Combined company expected to have approximately $225 million of cash or cash equivalents at close, including $53.5 million from a concurrent PIPE financing

LENZ Therapeutics, a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapies to improve vision, and Graphite Bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPH) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to combine the companies in an all-stock transaction. The lead programs of the combined company will address presbyopia, the inevitable loss of near vision that impacts the daily lives of nearly all people over the age of 45. The combined company is expected to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LENZ.”

In connection with the merger, Graphite Bio has entered into a subscription agreement for a PIPE financing that is expected to close concurrently with the completion of the merger of $53.5 million, with a syndicate of healthcare investors led by LENZ’s existing investors and including participation from new investors. The merger is subject to stockholder approval of both companies, the effectiveness of a registration statement to be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to register the securities to be issued in connection with the merger, and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

With the cash expected from both companies at closing and the proceeds of the concurrent PIPE financing, the combined company is expected to have approximately $225 million of cash or cash equivalents. Graphite Bio is expected to contribute $115 million to the combined entity and expects to pay a dividend to Graphite Bio shareholders of approximately $60 million at the close of the transaction. Upon close, key healthcare investors in the combined company will include Versant Ventures, RA Capital Management, Alpha Wave Global, Point72, Samsara BioCapital, Sectoral Asset Management, RTW Investments and others. It is expected that the net proceeds from the merger and concurrent financing will allow the combined company to continue to build infrastructure and successfully commercialize LENZ’s lead product candidate, subject to successful completion of the ongoing Phase 3 trials, New Drug Application (NDA) submission and subsequent FDA approval.

“I am pleased to announce our merger with Graphite Bio, allowing us to create a publicly traded company focused on the advancement of LENZ’s lead programs, LNZ100 and LNZ101 for the treatment of presbyopia. This pivotal change comes at an important time for the company as we gear up for the readout of the Phase 3 CLARITY trials in the second quarter of 2024,” said Eef Schimmelpennink, President and CEO of LENZ Therapeutics. “We believe that a once-daily pharmacological eye drop that can effectively and safely improve near vision throughout the full workday, without the need for reading glasses, will be a highly attractive commercial product with an estimated U.S. market opportunity in excess of $3 billion. We have assembled an executive team with extensive clinical, commercial and operational experience to commercialize such a product and become the category leader.”

“Graphite Bio ran a thorough and strategic process and we believe that this transaction represents the company’s commitment to delivering value to the Graphite stockholders,” said Kim Drapkin, CEO of Graphite Bio. “LENZ Therapeutics is strongly positioned with Phase 3 lead program, addressing a very large target market with near-term, high potential, value-inflecting milestones and a well-credentialed management team to lead the combined company.”

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