By Mary Welch

Maxygen Inc. acquired ProFound Pharma A/S, a Danish company that is focused on the development of improved second-generation protein pharmaceutical products, in a deal worth about $63 million.

Maxygen, based in Redwood City, Calif., will issue ProFound 980,000 shares of common stock ¿ which was worth about $53 million at Thursday¿s opening price ¿ and about $10 million in cash. Maxygen completed its initial public offering in December, raising $96 million at $16 per share. Maxygen¿s stock (NASDAQ:MAXY) closed Thursday at $53.50, down 75 cents.

¿ProFound was interested in the stock, not because of where our stock is now,¿ said Simba Gill, Maxygen¿s chief financial officer and senior vice president of business development. ¿They are interested in where the stock will be five or 10 years from now.¿

The merger achieves several objectives, Gill said.

¿They¿re a nice complement to us because they specialize in preclinical development of protein pharmaceutical products and it fits with our ability to use our MolecularBreeding technologies and existing protein pharmaceutical programs as an engine to develop multiple protein pharmaceuticals. We will have lots of protein product candidates with higher efficacy, increased specificity, fewer side effects and improved half-life.¿

ProFound¿s integrated series of validated capabilities in directed evolution and directed conjugation allow for site-specific, post-translational modification of proteins, including directed PEGylation and directed glycosylation. Its capabilities include high-throughput robotic screening systems, computer modeling, protein chemistry and pharmacological in vivo and in vitro characterization expertise.

ProFound¿s location, in Copenhagen, was another benefit.

¿We wanted a strong European presence, particularly because some of our partners are European, and there are large financial markets there as well, which will be important to us.¿

Maxygen, of Redwood City, Calif., has partnerships with several Europe-based companies, including Novo Nordisk AS, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark; Zeneca Agrochemicals, of London; and DSM Anti-Infectives, of Delft, the Netherlands.

According to Gill, ProFound¿s executive team was another reason for Maxygen¿s interest.

¿We were looking for an acquisition candidate, and ProFound was at the top of the list because of Jan Mikkelsen and Christian Hansen and their team,¿ Gill said. ¿They have a breadth of experience that will help us execute our business model.¿

Together, the companies will have more than 200 employees primarily focused on research and development. ProFound will lead the way initially in protein pharmaceuticals, Gill said.

¿Lastly, this acquisition adds to our pipeline,¿ Gill said. ¿They have five targets, which doubles our pipeline. All candidates are in the research phase.¿