U.S government hits pause on F-star takeover, citing national security risks

Dec. 29, 2022

invoX Pharma, a Sino Biopharmaceutical subsidiary, announced back in June that it would acquire immuno-oncology company F-star in an all-cash transaction — but now the U.S. government is hitting the pause button, citing national security risks. 

In an SEC filing, F-star said that the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) notified the company that if the parties intended to close the transaction "without having resolved CFIUS’s identified national security risks, CFIUS would take action to restrict the parties from consummating the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement." Shortly thereafter, CFIUS delivered on that threat, handing the parties an interim order preventing the deal from closing.

The specific national security risks have not been made public. 

The June agreement proposed a $161 million all-cash acquisition to accelerate invoX’s strategy to build Sino Biopharm’s International Biopharmaceutical R&D Platform outside of China. F-star, which is headquartered in the UK, obtained national security approval in the UK back in Nov. F-star also has a facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The expiration date on the offer has been extended several times in order to accommodate the CFIUS review. Now, F-star reports the deadline to close the deal had been extended from Dec. 28 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2022.