TransEnterix (NYSE:TRXC) said today that Italy’s Sofar SpA agreed to buy a $5 million stake in lieu of a $10 million milestone payment as the duo amended the $100 million deal for Sofar’s Telelap ALF-X robot-assisted surgery device – now known as Senhance.
In September 2015, TransEnterix bought the Senhance technology for $25 million up front and about 15.5 million TRXC shares worth roughly $43.7 million. Another $31.1 million was on the table in potential milestones.
Today TransEnterix said it sold another 3.72 million shares at $1.404 apiece to Sofar, instead of the all-cash €10 million due on future milestones. The €5 million balance is due on other milestones and can be deferred if they’re met before their Dec. 31 deadline.
The deal means Sofar owns a 16.1% stake in TransEnterix.
“We appreciate Sofar’s decision to increase their investment in TransEnterix, which reflects their continuing confidence in our strong prospects for growth,” president & CEO Todd Pope said in prepared remarks. “Sofar has been extremely supportive of the company since the Senhance system acquisition and we look forward to continuing our relationship well into the future.”
“We strongly believe in the compelling long-term opportunity for TransEnterix,” added Sofar CEO Andrea Biffi, who also has a seat on TransEnterix’s board. “This investment reflects our belief in the strength of the TransEnterix team as well as the substantial market potential for the Senhance system.”
Last month, Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based TransEnterix inked a deal to sell up to $25 million worth of stock to Lincoln Park Capital Fund over 3 years. In November 2016, Pope told MassDevice.com that the company is betting that the haptic and eye-motion-sensing capabilities of the Senhance system will help it carve out a share in a market dominated by Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG).
Haptics – the system’s ability to convey a sense of touch and resistance to the surgeon – are an important selling point with physicians, he told us.
“We had so many surgeons that are using the Senhance say that it was enhancing their senses, it was taking their sense of feel, their sense of touch, and, certainly, their sense of sight and really enhancing it,” he said.
Pope also cited an “eye-sensing” feature and the unit’s lower price point as further differentiators for Senhance. Instead of halting procedures to obtain a different camera view or requiring another body in the OR to shift the camera, Senhance is designed to track the surgeon’s eye movements to shift views.
The company shelved its flagship SurgiBot last year after the FDA denied its submission for 510(k) clearance.