Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Karl Storz offers $95 million for Durham’s Asensus Surgical

Asensus Surgical, a Durham-based medical robotics company, said Wednesday it has received a $95 million offer to be acquired by Karl Storz, a Tuttlingen, German-based medical technology company.

Asensus develops surgical technology, using robots and augmented intelligence to enhance procedures and surgical decision-making.

The letter of intent proposes that Karl Storz acquire all of Asensus’ stock for 35 cents per share — a 98% decline from the company’s stock price in 2019. In Wednesday afternoon trading, the stock was trading at 27 cents, up 6 cents, or 28%.

The offer, however, is a 66.7% premium to the closing price of Asensus stock on Tuesday. Karl Storz stated that the purchase price is its “best and final offer.”

Asensus was previously known as TransEnterix. It has struggled to compete against Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical, a bigger and financially profitable company that also manufactures robots for surgical procedures.

The company was valued at $1.2 billion back in September 2018, but has had trouble selling its devices. The company was founded in 2006 and acquired the Senhance surgical system from Milan, Italy-based Sofar SPA for $100 million in 2015.

In November 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recall for Senhance following reports of malfunctions causing unintended movements in laparoscopic procedures.

Under the letter of intent, Asensus will enter an exclusivity period where it will not engage in other negotiations. Over the next 10 weeks, the company and Karl Storz will conduct due diligence and negotiate a definitive agreement.

During this time, Asensus will receive as much as $20 million from Karl Storz under a secured promissory note. The loan will support Asensus’ operations during the exclusivity period until, if approved, the proposed transaction is closed.

The press release states that both Asensus and Karl Storz have the option to terminate the proposed transaction. If so, Karl Storz will stop providing additional bridge financing, and Asensus will have to pay back the bridge loan.

In February 2023, Asensus and Karl Storz’s VentureOne robotics subsidiary announced a collaboration to incorporate the Asensus’ computer-augmented vision platform into Karl Storz’s laparoscopic surgery systems. Karl Storz also said it planned to sell Asensus’ intelligent surgical unit as a standalone device.

Karl Storz is a family-owned medical technology company specializing in endoscopy. It has production sites in Germany, the U.S., Switzerland and Estonia. In the 2022 fiscal year, the privately owned company reported 2.05 billion euros in sales. Its U.S. operations are based in El Segundo, California.

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