South Africa | Bayer spends up to $4bn on US biotech firm AskBio

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer said on Monday it will buy US-based biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical for as much as $4 billion as it aims to get a foothold in the rapidly growing gene-therapy market.

"With this acquisition, Bayer significantly advances the establishment of a cell and gene therapy platform that can be at the forefront of breakthrough science," chief executive Werner Baumann said in a statement.

Bayer, which hopes to close the deal by the end of the year, said it will pay $2 billion (€1.7 billion) upfront and a further $2 billion in milestone payments, 75% of which will be paid over the next five years.

North Carolina-based AskBio, founded in 2001, specialises in the research, development and manufacturing of gene therapies and has in its pipeline treatments for Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure.

Bayer's previous investments in biotechnology include the acquisition of cell-therapy focused BlueRock Therapeutics for up to $1 billion in 2019.

The sprawling German company lost €9.5 billion in the second quarter of this year, reflecting legal costs after its controversial purchase of Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018.

It expects to save €1.5 billion by 2024, on top of the €2.6 billion of annual savings it expects to make from 2022, Bayer said earlier in October.

Football news:

Goodbye, Dad Buba Diop. Thanks to you, I lived the most memorable tournament of my childhood
Nuno about 2:1 with Arsenal: We played amazing, very proud. Jimenez recovered
Arsenal scored 13 points in 10 opening matches - the worst result in 39 years
West Brom can be bought by us investors. The Chinese owner of the club wants 150 million pounds
Lampard on Mourinho's words about ponies: You have Kane, Son, bale and alli. We are all fighting to win the Premier League
Mourinho on winning the Premier League: Tottenham are not in the race, because we are not a horse, but a pony
Laurent Blanc: I will return to football, but in children's. Now coaches are being asked to increase the cost of players, I don't like it