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Pfizer makes ‘stalking horse’ bankruptcy bid for Bind Therapeutics

Bind Therapeutics Inc., a bankrupt biotech founded by MIT scientist Robert Langer, will be sold to Pfizer Inc. for $19.7 million in a court-supervised transaction unless a higher bid emerges in the next two weeks.

Bind will ask a US bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday to approve the “stalking horse” bid from Pfizer, in essence setting a floor for an auction that would be held on July 25 auction in New York if qualified competing bids are received. The Cambridge company disclosed the arrangement with Pfizer in a July 1 regulatory filing.

The takeover would mark the end of the line for 10-year-old Bind, one of many Boston area biotechs started by Langer. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection May 1 after the breakdown of talks with a lender to restructure its debt.


If a rival bid for Bind is submitted by 4 p.m. on July 22 and accepted at the court-approved auction, Bind will be obligated to pay Pfizer a breakup fee of about $500,000.

Bind, which had collaborated with Pfizer and AstraZeneca PLC, based its drug research on a technology developed by Langer and Harvard Medical School professor Omid Farokhzad. The technology enables the development of “programmable nanomedicines” that precisely target cells or tissues to treat tumors. The company’s lead drug candidate seeks to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

The company raised $76.1 million in a 2013 initial public offering and $20 million in a follow-on offering in 2015. But with $40 million in cash and short-term investments on hand at the end of last year, it was forced to cut nearly 40 percent of its staff, including an 11-person research operation in Russia, as it sought additional money to fund its research.

Its bankruptcy filing was precipitated by an April 26 notice from lender Hercules Capital, a Palo Alto, Calif., venture debt firm that demanded payment in full of the $13.2 million balance on its loan, along with $1.2 million in fees, according to Bind executives.


Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.