Jeito Capital announces the acquisition by Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK) of its portfolio company EyeBio for a potential value of $3 billion

This acquisition reflects the significant clinical progress achieved with Restoret™,
EyeBio’s novel late-phase candidate for diabetic macular edema,
as well as a preclinical pipeline targeting retinal diseases –

Restoret anticipated to enter pivotal study for diabetic macular edema in the second half of 2024

  • The acquisition by Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK), a global biopharmaceutical company, will bring EyeBio additional expertise and commercial capabilities to pursue further clinical development steps for the future market launch of its next generation therapy.
  • EyeBio represents Jeito’s second successful exit in Q2 2024 validating further Jeito’s unique and differentiated investment model of selecting high-quality and innovative assets that meets the strong Pharma demand and delivers value for patients and investors.

Paris, France, May 29th 2024 – Jeito Capital (“Jeito”), a global leading independent private equity fund dedicated to biopharma, is pleased to announce that its portfolio company EyeBiotech Limited (EyeBio), a privately held clinical-stage ophthalmology biotechnology company working to deliver a new generation of therapies for sight-threatening eye diseases, and Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, have entered into a definitive agreement under which, Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK), through a subsidiary, will acquire EyeBio.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK), through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of Eyebio for up to $3 billion, including an upfront payment of $1.3 billion in cash and a further potential $1.7 billion in developmental, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.

The closing of the proposed transaction will be subject to certain conditions, including the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2024.

EyeBio is developing a pipeline of clinical and preclinical stage candidates for the prevention and treatment of vision loss associated with retinal vascular leakage, a known risk factor for retinal disease.

Jeito first invested in EyeBio in February 2022, just one year after its creation, as co-lead investor of a $65 million series A funding. In November 2023, Jeito participated again in EyeBio’s $65 million extension of its series A financing, in line with Jeito’s refinancing strategy to support portfolio companies with a significant deployment of capital at every value milestone reached. These financing rounds were made alongside other major investors in the life sciences industry: SV Health Investors, Samsara BioCapital, MRL Ventures, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Omega Funds and Vertex Ventures HC.

As a leading investor, Jeito fruitfully collaborated with EyeBio’s outstanding management team and has been a driving force in the strategic development of the company that led to faster development timelines.
With the steady strategic, operational and financial support of Jeito, EyeBio’s talented and experienced management team, highly recognised for their strong track record of developing ground-breaking ophthalmology therapies, has been able to design and execute an ambitious development plan, establishing in fast timeline the Proof-of-concept of Restoret in two indications: diabetic macular edema (DME) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD).

In June 2023, EyeBio launched Phase 1b/2a AMARONE (Anti-permeability Mechanism and Age-Related Ocular Neovascularization Evaluation) study, its first clinical trial of its lead asset Restoret, a Wnt agonist, in two retinal diseases with first positive results reported in February 2024, as patients treated with Restoret experienced visual, anatomic, and safety positive outcomes. Restoret is anticipated to advance into a pivotal Phase 2b/3 trial for the treatment of patients with (DME) in the second half of 2024.

EyeBio’s acquisition for up to $3 billion, which comes one week after the acquisition of another portfolio company (HI-Bio™ by Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) in autoimmune diseases for up to $1.8 billion[1]) demonstrates Jeito’s unique and differentiated investment model. Jeito selectively invests in high-quality and cutting-edge assets in severe diseases that meet the strong Pharma demand for breakthrough innovations and brings its integrated and extensive range of expertise provided by its multitalented team to companies in order to accelerate innovation and deliver value.

Dr. Rafaèle Tordjman, MD, PhD, Founder and CEO of Jeito Capital, said: “Since our first investment in EyeBio, we have been very impressed by the talent of the team and the high-quality of their research. Working alongside the management and supporting EyeBio at each step of its value milestones achieved, reflects perfectly our ambition to transform most promising biopharma into future global market leaders. Through this new successful exit in another new therapeutic area with high unmet needs, Jeito demonstrates how its unique investment strategy and collective expertise bring value to the company, the patients and the investors. We wish to the whole EyeBio team continued success with the support of Merck & Co, that will contribute to accelerate the development of its breakthrough innovations for the patients.”

Andreas Wallnoefer, Partner at Jeito Capital and Eyebio board, said: “Congratulations to the EyeBio teams for their tremendous progress over the past two years. The EyeBio team is highly experienced, and this was essential for their success. Tony Adamis, CSO and I had already previously worked together and we were involved in the successful development of Vabysmo® for patients with retinal disease. It has been tremendous to collaborate again, leveraging Jeito’s collective expertise and steady financial support to accelerate breakthrough therapies. EyeBio’s novel medicines in clinical development give hope to the many patients suffering from sight-threatening eye disease. This acquisition is a major new step that we believe will lead to further successes.”

Dr. Guyer, Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Eyebio, concluded: “The EyeBio team has successfully assembled a pipeline of novel candidates with the promise to provide new treatment options for patients with retinal disease. As a subsidiary of Merck, Eyebio will be well positioned to tap into the resources and infrastructure needed to support the clinical, regulatory and commercial development of these candidates and help bring them to patients worldwide.”

About Jeito Capital

Jeito Capital is a global leading Private Equity fund with a patient benefit driven approach that finances and accelerates the development and growth of ground-breaking medical innovation. Jeito empowers and supports managers through its expert, integrated, multi-talented team and through the investment of significant capital to ensure the growth of companies, building market leaders in their respective therapeutic areas with accelerated patients’ access globally, especially in Europe and the United States. Jeito Capital has €534 million under management and a rapidly growing portfolio of investments. Jeito Capital is based in Paris with a presence in Europe and the United States.

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For further information please contact:

Jeito Capital
Rafaèle Tordjman
Jessica Fadel, EA
Tel: +33 6 33 44 25 47

ICR Consilium
Mary-Jane Elliott / Davide Salvi / Kris Lam
Tél. : +44 (0) 20 3709 5700