Audentes Therapeutics downgraded to neutral from overweight at J.P. Morgan

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Astellas bets $3 billion in gene therapy deal

Shares of Astellas Pharma Inc. rose about 1% in premarket trading after the Japanese drugmaker said Monday evening that it plans to acquire Audentes Therapeutics for $3 billion in cash. Audentes is developing gene therapies. Its stock jumped 105% in premarket trading. “This is just another bullish domino for genetic medicine,” Raymond James’ Steven Seedhouse wrote in a research note. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile buyouts of companies developing gene therapies, including Roche’s $4.8 billion pending acquisition of Spark Therapeutics and Novartis’s $8.7 billion purchase of AveXis. Astellas said the boards of both companies have approved the deal. Shares of Astellas have gained 35% year-to-date, while the S&P 500 is up about 24%.

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