What happened?

Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) is at it again. The acquisitive company agreed to pay $600 million for Switzerland-based EngMab.

Privately held EngMab is a biotech that concentrates its efforts on T-cell bispecific antibodies (TCBs). As EngMac explains, "TCB binds simultaneously to a target on a tumor cell and to the T-cell receptor complex, leading to killing of the malignant cell." 

Does it matter?

Celgene is particularly strong in oncology, so EngMab should fit nicely into its operations. Celgene's Revlimid blood cancer treatment has been an excellent performer of late, with sales growing by 18% on a year-over-year basis in the first half of this year (although it's concerning that it comprised over 60% of the company's sales for the period, a rather heavy concentration).

Regardless, Celgene knows cancer drugs, so we can assume it's placing an informed -- and potentially lucrative -- bet on EngMab. Despite EngMab being in very early stages, the acquisition should be seen as a step towards diversification for Celgene to eventually reduce reliance on Revlimid for revenue. EngMab fits well within Celgene's research on B-cell maturation antigen (BMCA). As Celgene explained, "Through this acquisition, Celgene is now uniquely positioned to pursue BCMA development opportunities using both CAR-T and CD-3- redirected killing platforms. Both approaches and assets provide the opportunity for best in class assets." 

Looking at Celgene's balance sheet, the company had over $6.4 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of its most recently reported quarter, so the deal is well within its means. (Although, it must be said, the company's long-term debt position topped $14 billion). 

Given that Celgene has lately spent billions to buy some of its pricier assets, this deal is relatively small and thus shouldn't batter the finances too badly. All in all, from what we know so far, it seems like an opportunistic buy of a company with encouraging potential.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.