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bluebird (BLUE) to Spin Off Oncology Unit Into Separate Entity

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bluebird bio, Inc. (BLUE - Free Report) announced that it is planning to separate its severe genetic disease (SGD) and oncology businesses into two differentiated and independent publicly traded companies. The company will focus on SGD portfolio and is looking launch its oncology business as a new entity (Oncology Newco).

Per the company, with this separation, bluebird is looking to ensure both SGD and Oncology Newco are established as two independent publicly traded companies by the end of 2021. Moreover, the spin-off is designed to add more value through improved operational execution, increased strategic flexibility as well as adapt capital allocation.

The closing of the separation is expected to be in the fourth quarter of 2021. Upon closing, current president of the SGD business, Andrew Obenshain will continue as chief executive officer (“CEO”) of bluebird bio, while current chief bluebird, Nick Leschly, will become the CEO of Oncology Newco.

Shares of bluebird were up 3.8% following the announcement of the news on Monday. However, the stock has plunged 41.8% in the past year against the industry’s increase of 9.2%.

price chart for BLUE

Per the press release, the newly formed entity Oncology Newco will support the commercialization of idecabtagene vicleucel (ide-cel), an investigational B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, which is currently under review in the United States.

In September 2020, bluebird and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY - Free Report) announced that the FDA accepted their BLA for idecabtagene vicleucel for Priority Review. The companies are seeking approval of the candidate for the treatment of adult patients with multiple myeloma, having received a minimum of three prior therapies, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor and an anti-CD38 antibody. A decision from the regulatory body is expected on Mar 27, 2021.

Meanwhile, the SGD business will focus on expanded access and reimbursement of bluebird’s marketed product, Zynteglo (betibeglogene autotemcel), in Europe, which has received conditional marketing authorization from the European Commission for treating patients 12 years or older with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia, who do not have a β0/β0 genotype, for whom hematopoietic stem cell (“HSC”) transplantation is appropriate but a human leukocyte antigen-matched related HSC donor is not available.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

bluebird currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Top-ranked stocks in the biotech sector include Arcus Biosciences, Inc. (RCUS - Free Report) and Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (HALO - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Arcus Biosciences’ loss per share estimates have narrowed 11.2% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged222.6% in the past year.

Halozyme’s earnings estimates have been revised 3.6% upward for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has skyrocketed 132.2% in the past year.

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