424B5
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PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

(To Prospectus Dated October 21, 2020)

  

Filed Pursuant to Rule 424(b)(5)

Registration No. 333-249341

 

 

$50,000,000 American Depositary Shares

 

LOGO

Representing Ordinary Shares

We have entered into a sales agreement with SVB Leerink LLC, or SVB Leerink, relating to the ADSs offered by this prospectus supplement. In accordance with the terms of the sales agreement, we may offer and sell our ADSs having an aggregate offering price of up to $50,000,000 from time to time through SVB Leerink acting as our agent.

Our ADSs are traded on The Nasdaq Global Market, or the Nasdaq, under the symbol “MREO.” On October 22, 2020, the last reported sale price of our ADSs on the Nasdaq was $2.56 per ADS.

Sales of our ADSs, if any, under this prospectus supplement may be made in sales deemed to be “at-the-market” offerings, as defined in Rule 415 promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), including sales made directly on the Nasdaq or any other trading market for our common shares. SVB Leerink is not required to sell any specific amount of securities, but will act as our sales agent using commercially reasonable efforts consistent with its normal trading and sales practices, on mutually agreed terms between SVB Leerink and us. There is no arrangement for funds to be received in any escrow, trust or similar arrangement.

The compensation to SVB Leerink for sales of ADSs sold pursuant to the sales agreement will be an amount equal to 3% of the gross proceeds of any ADSs sold under the sales agreement. See “Plan of Distribution” beginning on page S-18 for additional information regarding the compensation to be paid to SVB Leerink. In connection with the sale of the ADSs on our behalf, SVB Leerink will be deemed to be an “underwriter” within the meaning of the Securities Act, and the compensation of SVB Leerink will be deemed to be underwriting commissions or discounts. We have also agreed to provide indemnification and contribution to SVB Leerink with respect to certain liabilities, including liabilities under the Securities Act or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

We are both an “emerging growth company” and a “foreign private issuer” as defined under the Securities Act, and, as such, are subject to reduced public company reporting requirements.

Investing in our ADSs involves a high degree of risk. See “Risk Factors” on page S-8 of this prospectus supplement and in the documents incorporated by reference into this prospectus supplement concerning factors you should consider before investing in our ADSs.

Neither the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus supplement. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

SVB Leerink

 

 

Prospectus Supplement dated October 23, 2020


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PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

 

ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

    S-1  

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

    S-2  

PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT SUMMARY

    S-4  

THE OFFERING

    S-7  

RISK FACTORS

    S-8  

USE OF PROCEEDS

    S-17  

PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION

    S-18  

LEGAL MATTERS

    S-20  

EXPERTS

    S-20  

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

    S-21  

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

    S-22  

 

 

 


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ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

This document consists of two parts. The first part is this prospectus supplement, which describes the specific terms of this offering. The second part is the accompanying prospectus, which is part of a registration statement that we filed with the SEC using a “shelf” registration process. The accompanying prospectus describes more general information, some of which may not apply to this offering. Under this shelf registration process, we may from time to time sell our ADSs having an aggregate offering price of up to $50,000,000 under this prospectus supplement at prices and on terms to be determined by market conditions at the time of the offering.

Before buying any of the ADSs that we are offering, we urge you to carefully read both this prospectus supplement and the accompanying prospectus together with all of the information incorporated by reference herein, as well as the additional information described under the headings “Where You Can Find More Information” and “Incorporation by Reference.” These documents contain important information that you should consider when making your investment decision.

To the extent there is a conflict between the information contained in this prospectus supplement, on the one hand, and the information contained in the accompanying prospectus or in any document incorporated by reference in this prospectus supplement, on the other hand, you should rely on the information in this prospectus supplement, provided that if any statement in one of these documents is inconsistent with a statement in another document having a later date, for example, a document incorporated by reference in this prospectus supplement, the statement in the document having the later date modifies or supersedes the earlier statement.

You should rely only on the information contained in or incorporated by reference in this prospectus supplement and any related free writing prospectus filed by us with the SEC. We have not, and SVB Leerink has not, authorized anyone to provide you with different information. If anyone provides you with different or inconsistent information, you should not rely on it. This prospectus supplement does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities other than the securities described in this prospectus supplement or an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy such securities in any circumstances in which such offer or solicitation is unlawful. You should assume that the information appearing in this prospectus supplement, the documents incorporated by reference and any related free writing prospectus is accurate only as of their respective dates. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed materially since those dates.

You should also read and consider the information in the documents to which we have referred you in the sections entitled “Where You Can Find More Information” and “Incorporation by Reference” in this prospectus supplement.

Throughout this prospectus, and the documents incorporated by reference, unless otherwise designated, the terms “Mereo,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Mereo BioPharma Group plc and our wholly-owned subsidiaries Mereo BioPharma 1 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 2 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 3 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 4 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 5, Inc. (formerly OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), Mereo BioPharma Ireland Limited, Mereo US Holdings Inc. and NAVI Subsidiary, Inc. Our consolidated financial statements also treat Mereo BioPharma Group plc Employee Benefit Trust, an employee benefit trust operated by us, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ours. References in this prospectus to the “Merger” are to the merger of Mereo MergerCo One Inc. and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mereo US Holdings Inc., and as an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mereo BioPharma Group plc pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Merger and Reorganization, dated December 5, 2018, by and among Mereo BioPharma Group plc, Mereo US Holdings Inc., Mereo MergerCo One Inc. and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.



 

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CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and the documents incorporated into it contain statements that constitute forward-looking statements. Many of these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “potential” and “should,” among others.

Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and the documents incorporated into it and include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our intent, belief, or current expectations. Forward-looking statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. Such statements are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements due to various important factors, including, but not limited to, those identified under “Risk Factors.” In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a guarantee by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all.

Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

   

the development of our product candidates, including statements regarding the expected initiation, timing, progress, and availability of data from our clinical trials;

 

   

the potential attributes and benefits of our product candidates and their competitive position;

 

   

our ability to partner or sell our two product candidates, acumapimod for the treatment of AECOPD and leflutrozole for the treatment of infertility and HH in obese men, on attractive terms or at all;

 

   

our ability to successfully commercialize, or enter into strategic relationships with third parties to commercialize, our product candidates, if approved;

 

   

our estimates regarding expenses, future revenues, capital requirements, and our need for additional financing;

 

   

the potential volatility in the price of our ordinary shares and ADSs if the shares sold through our recent private placements are sold on the market;

 

   

our being subject to ongoing regulatory obligations if our products secure regulatory approval;

 

   

our reliance on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and on third-party suppliers to supply or produce our product candidates;

 

   

the patient market size of any diseases and market adoption of our products by physicians and patients;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain adequate intellectual property rights and adequately protect and enforce such rights;

 

   

the duration of our patent portfolio;

 

   

the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated disruptions that could materially impact our business including planned clinical developments and our ongoing clinical studies;

 

   

the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union could lead to increased market volatility, make it more difficult for us to do business in Europe or have other adverse effects on our business;

 

   

our ability to retain key personnel and recruit additional qualified personnel;

 

   

our ability to manage growth;



 

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our ability to successfully integrate and realize the benefits of our past or future strategic acquisitions or investments; and

 

   

other risk factors discussed under “Risk Factors.”

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update them in light of new information or future developments or to release publicly any revisions to these statements in order to reflect later events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

You should read this prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and the documents that we incorporate by reference in this prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus supplement is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.



 

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PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT SUMMARY

This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus supplement or incorporated by reference herein. This summary may not contain all the information that may be important to you, and we urge you to read this entire prospectus supplement carefully, including the risks related to our business, our industry, investing in our ordinary shares, that we describe under “Risk Factors” and our consolidated financial statements, including the notes thereto, included and incorporated by reference in this prospectus supplement, before deciding to invest in our ADSs.

Our Company

We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative therapeutics that aim to improve outcomes for oncology and rare diseases. We have developed a portfolio of six clinical stage product candidates. Our lead oncology product candidate, etigilimab (“Anti-TIGIT”), has completed a Phase 1a dose escalation clinical trial in patients with advanced solid tumors and has been evaluated in a Phase 1b study in combination with nivolumab in select tumor types. Our second oncology product, navicixizumab, for the treatment of late line ovarian cancer, has completed a Phase 1 study and has been partnered with OncXerna Therapeutics, Inc., formerly Oncologie, Inc. Our rare disease product candidates are setrusumab for the treatment of OI and alvelestat for the treatment of severe AATD which is being investigated in an ongoing Phase 2 proof-of-concept study in the U.S. and Europe and expect to report top line data from this study in the second half of 2021. The FDA recently granted Rare Pediatric Disease designation to setrusumab for the treatment of OI. Following the completion of our Phase 2b ASTEROID study, both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) have agreed on the principles of a design of a single Phase 3 pivotal pediatric study in OI and we plan to form a strategic partnership for the development of setrusumab prior to the initiation of a Phase 3 study.

We plan to develop our product candidates for oncology and rare diseases through the next key clinical milestone and then partner or in selected cases to develop through regulatory approval and potentially commercialization. We plan to partner or sell our other two product candidates (which do not target oncology or rare diseases), acumapimod for the treatment of AECOPD and leflutrozole for the treatment of infertility and HH in obese men, recognizing the need for greater resources to take these product candidates to market.

Our strategy is selectively to acquire and develop product candidates for oncology and rare diseases that have already received significant investment from large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and that have substantial pre-clinical, clinical and manufacturing data packages. Since our formation in March 2015, we have successfully executed on this strategy by acquiring, through asset purchases or exclusive licenses of certain intellectual property rights, six clinical-stage product candidates four of which were in oncology and rare diseases. We acquired four of these six clinical-stage product candidates from large pharmaceutical companies and acquired two in the Merger. We aim to efficiently develop our product candidates through the clinic and have commenced or completed large, randomized Phase 2 clinical trials for four of our product candidates.

Oncology and rare diseases represent an attractive development and in some cases commercialization opportunity for us since they typically have high unmet medical need and can utilize regulatory pathways that facilitate acceleration to approval and to the potential market. Development of products for oncology and rare diseases both involve close collaboration with key opinion leaders and investigators. Development of rare disease products generally involves close coordination with the



 

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patient organizations and patients are treated at a limited number of specialized sites which helps identification of the patient population and enables a small targeted sales infrastructure to commercialize the products in key markets.

Our team has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector in the identification, acquisition, development, manufacturing and commercialization of product candidates in multiple therapeutic areas. Our senior management has long-standing relationships with senior executives of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies which we believe enhances our ability to form strategic partnerships on our product candidates and to identify and acquire additional product candidates.

Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company and a Foreign Private Issuer

Emerging Growth Company

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). As an emerging growth company we have chosen to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other publicly traded entities that are not emerging growth companies. These exemptions include:

 

   

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002;

 

   

not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements (i.e., an auditor discussion and analysis);

 

   

not being required to submit certain executive compensation matters to shareholder advisory votes, such as “say-on-pay,” “say-on-frequency,” and “say-on-golden parachutes;” and

 

   

not being required to disclose certain executive compensation related items such as the correlation between executive compensation and performance and comparisons of the chief executive officer’s compensation to median employee compensation.

We may take advantage of these provisions until the earliest of: (i) the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion; (ii) the last day of 2024; (iii) the date that we become a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our common equity held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter; or (iv) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during any three-year period.

As a result, we do not know if some investors will find our ADSs less attractive. The result may be a less active trading market for our ADSs, and the price of our ADSs may become more volatile.

Foreign Private Issuer

We report under the Exchange Act as a non-U.S. company with foreign private issuer status. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, as long as we qualify as a foreign private



 

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issuer under the Exchange Act we will be exempt from certain provisions of the Exchange Act that are applicable to U.S. domestic public companies, including:

 

   

the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

   

the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

   

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q containing unaudited financial and other specific information, or current reports on Form 8-K, upon the occurrence of specified significant events.

Both foreign private issuers and emerging growth companies also are exempt from certain more stringent executive compensation disclosure rules. Thus, even if we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, but remain a foreign private issuer, we will continue to be exempt from the more stringent compensation disclosures required of companies that are neither an emerging growth company nor a foreign private issuer.

As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted to follow the corporate governance practices of our home country in lieu of certain provisions of the Nasdaq. We therefore follow U.K. corporate governance practices in lieu of certain Nasdaq corporate governance requirements including the requirement to seek shareholder approval for a specified issuance of securities.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated as a private limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group Limited under the laws of England and Wales on March 10, 2015 with the company number 09481161. On June 3, 2016, we re-registered as a public limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group plc. Our registered office address is Fourth Floor, One Cavendish Place, London, W1G 0QF, United Kingdom and our telephone number is +44 (0) 33 3023 7300. Our website address is www.mereobiopharma.com. The information contained on, or that can be accessed from, our website does not form part of this prospectus supplement. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Mereo US Holdings Inc.



 

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THE OFFERING

 

ADSs Offered by Us

ADSs having an aggregate offering price of up to $50,000,000.

 

Manner of Offering

“At the market” offering that may be made from time to time through our sales agent, SVB Leerink LLC. See “Plan of Distribution.”

 

Use of Proceeds

We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, if any, for general corporate purposes, which may include research and development expenses, working capital and general and administrative expenses. See “Use of Proceeds.”

 

Risk Factors

You should read the “Risk Factors” section of this prospectus supplement for a discussion of factors to consider carefully before deciding to purchase our ADSs.

 

Nasdaq Global Select Market Symbol

MREO


 

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RISK FACTORS

Investing in our securities involves significant risks. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks described under “Risk Factors” under Item 3.D. – “Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F, and any updates in our Reports on Form 6-K, together with all of the other information appearing in this prospectus supplement, the accompanying prospectus or incorporated by reference into this prospectus supplement, in light of your particular investment objectives and financial circumstances. The risks so described are not the only risks facing us. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. The trading price of our securities could decline due to any of these risks, and you may lose all or part of your investment. The discussion of risks includes or refers to forward-looking statements; you should read the explanation of the qualifications and limitations on such forward-looking statements discussed elsewhere in this prospectus supplement and the accompanying prospectus.

Risks Related to our ADSs

The market price for ADSs and the underlying ordinary shares may be volatile and may decline regardless of our operating performance, and the value of your investment could materially decline.

The trading price of ADSs may fluctuate, and the trading price of ordinary shares on AIM is likely to continue to fluctuate, substantially.

The market price of ADSs and ordinary shares may fluctuate significantly in response to numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

   

positive or negative results from, or delays in, testing or clinical trials conducted by our or our competitors;

 

   

delays in entering into strategic relationships with respect to development or commercialization of our product candidates or entry into strategic relationships on terms that are not deemed to be favorable to us;

 

   

technological innovations or commercial product introductions by us or competitors;

 

   

changes in government regulations;

 

   

developments concerning proprietary rights, including patents and litigation matters;

 

   

the impact of public health epidemics, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and government efforts to slow their spread;

 

   

economic, public health, financial or geopolitical events that affect us or the financial markets generally, including the duration and severity of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;

 

   

public concern relating to the commercial value or safety of our product candidates;

 

   

financing or other corporate transactions;

 

   

publication of research reports or comments by securities or industry analysts, and variances in our periodic results of operations from securities analysts’ estimates;

 

   

general market conditions in the biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries or in the economy as a whole;

 

   

the loss of any of our key scientific or senior management personnel;

 

   

sales of our ADSs or ordinary shares by us, our senior management and board members, holders of ADSs or our other security holders in the future, including the 214,206,105 ordinary shares issued in a recent private placement;

 

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actions by institutional shareholders;

 

   

speculation in the press or the investment community; or

 

   

other events and factors, many of which are beyond our control.

These and other market and industry factors may cause the market price and demand for our ADSs to fluctuate substantially, regardless of our actual operating performance, which may limit or prevent investors from readily selling ADSs or ordinary shares and may otherwise negatively affect the liquidity of ADSs and ordinary shares.

In addition, the stock market in general, and emerging companies in particular, have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that often have been unrelated to the operating performance of the companies affected by these fluctuations. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the trading price of ADSs and ordinary shares, regardless of our operating performance. Furthermore, the trading prices for our ADSs and the underlying ordinary shares as well as the ordinary shares of our competitors have been highly volatile as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a recession, depression or other sustained adverse market event resulting from the spread of COVID-19 could materially and adversely affect our business and the market price of our ADSs and ordinary shares.

In the past in the United States, when the market price of a security has been volatile, holders of that security have often instituted securities class action litigation against the issuer of such securities. If any of the holders of ADSs or ordinary shares were to bring such a lawsuit against us, we could incur substantial costs defending the lawsuit and the attention of our senior management would be diverted from the operation of our business. Any adverse determination in litigation could also subject us to significant liabilities.

Future sales of ordinary shares or ADSs could depress the market price of ADSs.

If holders of ordinary shares or ADSs sell, or indicate an intent to sell, substantial amounts of ordinary shares or ADSs in the public markets, the trading price of ADSs or ordinary shares could decline significantly. These sales might also make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities at a time and price that we otherwise would deem appropriate.

The dual listing of ordinary shares and ADSs is costly to maintain and may adversely affect the liquidity and value of ordinary shares and ADSs.

Our ADSs are listed for trading on Nasdaq and our ordinary shares trade on AIM. Since April 24, 2019 we have maintained a dual listing, which has generated and will continue to generate additional costs, including significant legal, accounting, investor relations, and other expenses that we did not incur prior to April 24, 2019, in addition to the costs associated with the additional reporting requirements described elsewhere in our most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F. We cannot predict the effect of this dual listing on the value of our ADSs and ordinary shares. However, the dual listing of ADSs and ordinary shares may dilute the liquidity of these securities in one or both markets and may adversely affect the development of an active trading market for our ADSs. The price of our ADSs could also be adversely affected by trading in ordinary shares on AIM. In addition, the dual listing of ordinary shares and ADSs may cause the market price for ADSs and the underlying ordinary shares to fluctuate and decline regardless of our operating performance. See “—The market price for ADSs and the underlying ordinary shares may be volatile and may decline regardless of our operating performance, and the value of your investment could materially decline.” If in the future we do not continue to remain dual-listed, the process of terminating our listing on one exchange or the other may cause disruption in the trading of our securities and contribute to volatility in the trading prices of our securities.

 

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Fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the pound sterling may increase the risk of holding ADSs.

The share price of ordinary shares is quoted on AIM in pence sterling, while our ADSs trade on Nasdaq in U.S. dollars. Fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the pound sterling may result in differences between the value of our ADSs and the value of ordinary shares, which may result in heavy trading by investors seeking to exploit such differences. In addition, as a result of fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the pound sterling, the U.S. dollar equivalent of the proceeds that a holder of our ADSs would receive upon the sale in the United Kingdom of any ordinary shares withdrawn from the depositary, and the U.S. dollar equivalent of any cash dividends paid in pound sterling on ordinary shares represented by our ADSs, could also decline.

You may be subject to limitations on the transfer of ADSs and the withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares.

ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when the depositary, in good faith, determines such action is necessary or advisable pursuant to the deposit agreement. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is necessary or advisable to do so because of any requirement of law, government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason, subject to your right to cancel your ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares. Temporary delays in the cancellation of your ADSs and withdrawal of the underlying ordinary shares may arise because the depositary has closed its transfer books or we have closed our transfer books, the transfer of ordinary shares is blocked to permit voting at a shareholders’ meeting or because we are paying a dividend on our ordinary shares.

In addition, you may not be able to cancel your ADSs and withdraw the underlying ordinary shares when you owe money for fees, taxes and similar charges to the depositary and when it is necessary to prohibit withdrawals in order to comply with any laws or governmental regulations that apply to our ADSs or to the withdrawal of our ordinary shares or other deposited securities.

The rights of our shareholders may differ from the rights typically offered to shareholders of a U.S. corporation.

We are incorporated under English law. The rights of holders of ordinary shares and, therefore, certain of the rights of holders of ADSs, are governed by English law, including the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, and by our Articles of Association (our “Articles”). These rights differ in certain respects from the rights of shareholders in typical U.S. corporations.

The depositary for ADSs is entitled to charge holders fees for various services, including annual service fees.

The depositary for ADSs is entitled to charge holders fees for various services including for the issuance of ADSs upon deposit of ordinary shares, cancellation of ADSs, distributions of cash dividends or other cash distributions, distributions of ADSs pursuant to share dividends or other free share distributions, distributions of securities other than ADSs and annual service fees. In the case of ADSs issued by the depositary into The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”), the fees will be charged by the DTC participant to the account of the applicable beneficial owner in accordance with the procedures and practices of the DTC participant as in effect at the time. The depositary for ADSs will not be responsible for any United Kingdom stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax arising upon the issuance or transfer of ADSs. For a discussion of the United Kingdom stamp duty and stamp duty

 

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reserve tax consequences of the issuance and transfer of ADSs, see “Material Tax Considerations— Stamp Duty and Stamp Duty Reserve Tax” in the accompanying prospectus.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate research or unfavorable research about our business, the price and trading volume of ordinary shares and ADSs could decline.

The trading market for our ordinary shares and ADSs depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our ordinary shares or ADSs or publishes incorrect or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our ordinary shares and/or ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of us or fails to publish reports on us regularly, or downgrades our ordinary shares or ADSs, demand for ADSs or ordinary shares could decrease, which could cause the price of ADSs and/or ordinary shares and/or trading volume to decline.

Our ADS holders may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to claims arising under the deposit agreement, which could result in less favorable results to the plaintiff(s) in any such action.

The deposit agreement governing our ADSs provides that holders and beneficial owners of ADSs irrevocably waive the right to a trial by jury in any legal proceeding arising out of or relating to the deposit agreement or our ADSs, including claims under U.S. federal securities laws, against us or the depositary to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law. If this jury trial waiver provision is prohibited by applicable law, an action could nevertheless proceed under the terms of the deposit agreement with a jury trial. Although we are not aware of a specific federal decision that addresses the enforceability of a jury trial waiver in the context of U.S. federal securities laws, it is our understanding that jury trial waivers are generally enforceable. Moreover, insofar as the deposit agreement is governed by the laws of the State of New York, New York laws similarly recognize the validity of jury trial waivers in appropriate circumstances. In determining whether to enforce a jury trial waiver provision, New York courts and federal courts will consider whether the visibility of the jury trial waiver provision within the agreement is sufficiently prominent such that a party has knowingly waived any right to trial by jury. We believe that this is the case with respect to the deposit agreement and our ADSs.

In addition, New York courts will not enforce a jury trial waiver provision in order to bar a viable setoff or counterclaim sounding in fraud or one which is based upon a creditor’s negligence in failing to liquidate collateral upon a guarantor’s demand, or in the case of an intentional tort claim (as opposed to a contract dispute). No condition, stipulation or provision of the deposit agreement or ADSs serves as a waiver by any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs or by us or the depositary of compliance with any provision of U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

If any holder or beneficial owner of ADSs brings a claim against us or the depositary in connection with matters arising under the deposit agreement or our ADSs, including claims under U.S. federal securities laws, such holder or beneficial owner may not be entitled to a jury trial with respect to such claims, which may have the effect of limiting and discouraging lawsuits against us or the depositary. If a lawsuit is brought against us or the depositary under the deposit agreement, it may be heard only by a judge or justice of the applicable trial court, which would be conducted according to different civil procedures and may result in different results than a trial by jury would have had, including results that could be less favorable to the plaintiff(s) in any such action, depending on, among other things, the nature of the claims, the judge or justice hearing such claims, and the venue of the hearing.

 

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You may not receive distributions on ordinary shares represented by ADSs or any value for them if it is unlawful or impractical to make them available to holders of ADSs.

Pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, the depositary for ADSs will distribute the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, in accordance with the limitations set forth in the deposit agreement, it may be unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to holders of ADSs. We have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value from them if it is unlawful or impractical to make them available to you. These restrictions may have a material adverse effect on the value of ADSs.

It may be difficult for you to bring any action or enforce any judgment obtained in the United States against us or members of our Board, which may limit the remedies otherwise available to us.

We are incorporated as a public limited company in England and Wales, and the majority of our assets are located outside the United States. In addition, the majority of the members of our board of directors (our “Board”) are nationals and residents of countries, including the United Kingdom, outside of the United States. Most or all of the assets of these individuals are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States if you believe your rights have been infringed under the securities laws or otherwise. In addition, a United Kingdom court may prevent you from enforcing a judgment of a U.S. court against us or these individuals based on the securities laws of the United States or any state thereof. A United Kingdom court may not allow you to bring an action against us or our directors based on the securities laws of the United States or any state thereof.

Shareholders in countries other than the United Kingdom will suffer dilution if they are unable to participate in future pre-emptive equity offerings.

Under English law, shareholders (being those shareholders that are included in a company’s register of members as holders of the legal title to that company’s shares) usually have pre-emptive rights to subscribe on a pro rata basis in the issuance of new shares for cash. The exercise of those pre-emptive rights by certain shareholders not resident in the United Kingdom may be restricted by applicable law or practice in the United Kingdom and overseas jurisdictions. In particular, the exercise of pre-emptive rights by United States shareholders would be prohibited unless an offering is registered under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act applies. Furthermore, under the deposit agreement for our ADSs, the depositary generally will not make available those pre-emptive rights to holders of ADSs unless certain conditions are met, including that the provision of such pre-emptive rights to the ADS holders is reasonably practicable. If no exemption applies and we determine not to register such offering, shareholders in the United States may not be able or permitted to exercise their pre-emptive rights. We are also permitted under English law to disapply pre-emptive rights (subject to the approval of our shareholders by special resolution or the inclusion in the articles of a power to disapply such rights) either generally or in relation to a specific allotment and thereby exclude certain shareholders, such as overseas shareholders, from participating in a rights offering (usually to avoid a breach of local securities laws).

Holders of ADSs may not have the same voting rights as holders of ordinary shares and may not receive voting materials in time to be able to exercise their right to vote.

Holders of ADSs are not able to exercise voting rights attaching to ordinary shares underlying our ADSs on an individual basis. Each holder of ADSs has appointed the depositary or its nominee as the

 

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holder’s representative to exercise, pursuant to the instructions of the holder, the voting rights attaching to our ordinary shares underlying our ADSs. Holders of ADSs may not receive voting materials in time to instruct the depositary to vote, and it is possible that they, or persons who hold their ADSs through brokers, dealers or other third parties, will not have the opportunity to exercise a right to vote.

Because we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on ADSs or ordinary shares in the foreseeable future, capital appreciation, if any, will be your sole source of gains and you may never receive a return on your investment.

Under English law, a company’s accumulated realized profits must exceed its accumulated realized losses on a non-consolidated basis before dividends can be paid. Therefore, we must have distributable profits before issuing a dividend. We have not paid dividends in the past on our ordinary shares. Further, we intend to retain future earnings, if any, for use in our business and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. In addition, our credit facility prohibits us from paying dividends on our equity securities without Kreos’s consent, and any future debt agreements may likewise preclude us from paying dividends. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, on ADSs or ordinary shares will be your sole source of gains for the foreseeable future.

We are currently a “foreign private issuer” under the rules and regulations of the SEC and, as a result, are exempt from a number of rules under the Exchange Act and are permitted to file less information with the SEC than a company incorporated in the United States.

We are incorporated as a public limited company in England and Wales and are deemed to be a “foreign private issuer” under the rules and regulations of the SEC. As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from certain rules under the Exchange Act that would otherwise apply if we were a company incorporated in the United States, including:

 

   

the requirement to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as United States companies with securities registered under the Exchange Act;

 

   

the requirement to file financial statements prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP;

 

   

the proxy rules, which impose certain disclosure and procedural requirements for proxy solicitations; and

 

   

the requirement to comply with Regulation Fair Disclosure (“Regulation FD”), which imposes certain restrictions on the selective disclosure of material information.

In addition, our officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and the related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our ADSs and ordinary shares.

As a foreign private issuer, we are not required to comply with some of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq applicable to companies incorporated in the United States.

Our Board is required to meet certain corporate governance standards under Nasdaq Listing Rules, including the requirement to maintain an audit committee comprised of three or more directors satisfying the independence standards of Nasdaq applicable to audit committee members. While foreign private issuers are not required to comply with most of the other corporate governance rules of Nasdaq, we believe we currently comply with, and intend to continue to comply with, the majority of such requirements, including the requirements to maintain a majority of independent directors and nominating and compensation committees of our Board comprised solely of independent directors. We follow UK requirements with respect to shareholder meetings including shareholder meetings required to disapply preemption rights and issue ordinary shares to investors in connection with private placements of our securities and follow the AIM rules and Corporate Governance Code published by the Quoted Companies Alliance for other corporate governance matters. As a result, holders of our

 

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ADSs may not be afforded the benefits of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq to the same extent applicable to companies incorporated in the United States.

Additional reporting requirements may apply if we lose our status as a foreign private issuer.

If we lose our status as a “foreign private issuer” under the rules and regulations of the SEC at some future time, then we will no longer be exempt from such rules and, among other things, will be required to file periodic reports and financial statements as if we were a company incorporated in the United States. The costs incurred in fulfilling these additional regulatory requirements could be substantial.

Although our reporting obligations as a foreign private issuer are fewer than those of a public company incorporated in the United States, our costs of complying with our SEC reporting requirements are significant, and our management is required to devote substantial time to complying with SEC regulations.

As a company with securities listed in the United States, and particularly after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we will incur significant legal, accounting, and other expenses that we did not incur previously. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the listing requirements of Nasdaq, and other applicable securities rules and regulations impose various requirements on non-U.S. reporting public companies, including the establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls and corporate governance practices. Our senior management and other personnel will need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs and will make some activities more time-consuming and costly. For example, we expect that these rules and regulations may make it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, which in turn could make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified senior management personnel or members for our Board. In addition, these rules and regulations are often subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices.

We are an “emerging growth company,” and the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies may make the ADSs less attractive to investors.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. As such, we are eligible to, and intend to, take advantage, for up to five years, of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies that are not Emerging Growth Companies, such as not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. These exemptions include:

 

   

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements in the assessment of our internal control over financial reporting;

 

   

not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements;

 

   

reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation; and

 

   

exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.

 

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We expect to continue to take advantage of some or all of the available exemptions. We cannot predict whether investors will find the ADSs less attractive if we rely on these exemptions. If some investors find the ADSs less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for the ADSs and the market price of the ADSs may be more volatile.

In addition, the JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company can take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. This allows an emerging growth company to delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption and, therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

The executive officers, Board and certain of our existing shareholders own a majority or a significant portion of our outstanding ordinary shares and, as a result, have control or significant influence over us and our interests may conflict with the interests of these shareholders.

Our executive officers, Board and significant shareholders and their respective affiliates, in the aggregate, beneficially own a majority of our outstanding ordinary shares (including ordinary shares in the form of our ADSs). Depending on the level of attendance at our general meetings of shareholders, these shareholders either alone or voting together as a group may be in a position to control or significantly influence the outcome of decisions taken at any such general meeting. Any shareholder or group of shareholders controlling more than 50% of the share capital present and voting at our general meetings of shareholders may control any shareholder resolution requiring a simple majority, including the appointment of board members, certain decisions relating to our capital structure and the approval of certain significant corporate transactions. Any shareholder or group of shareholders controlling more than 75% of the share capital present and voting at our general meetings of shareholders may control any shareholder resolution amending our Articles. These shareholders may have interests that differ from ours and may vote in a way with which we disagree and which may be adverse to your interests. Among other consequences, this concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control and might therefore negatively affect the market price of our ADSs and ordinary shares.

We may be a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for any taxable year, which could result in material adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences if you are a U.S. investor.

In general, a non-U.S. corporation will be a PFIC for any taxable year in which (i) 75% or more of its gross income consists of passive income (the “income test”) or (ii) 50% or more of the value of its assets consists of assets (generally determined on a quarterly average basis) that produce, or are held for the production of, passive income (the “asset test”). For purposes of the above calculations, a non-U.S. corporation that directly or indirectly owns at least 25% by value of the shares of another corporation is treated as if it held its proportionate share of the assets of the other corporation and received directly its proportionate share of the income of the other corporation. Passive income generally includes interest, dividends, gains from certain property transactions, rents and royalties (other than certain rents or royalties derived in the active conduct of a trade or business). Cash is a passive asset for PFIC purposes. Goodwill (the value of which may be determined by reference to the company’s market capitalization) is treated as an active asset to the extent attributable to activities intended to produce active income.

Based on our gross income, the average value of our assets, including goodwill, and the nature of the current state of our business, we believe we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2019. There can be no assurance regarding our PFIC status for the current taxable year or any particular year in the future because PFIC status is factual in nature, depends upon factors not wholly

 

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within our control, generally cannot be determined until the close of the taxable year in question and is determined annually. Accordingly, U.S. investors should invest in our ADSs only if they are willing to bear the U.S. federal income tax consequences associated with investments in PFICs.

If we were a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. investor owns ADSs or ordinary shares, certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could apply to such U.S. investor. We will provide the information necessary for a U.S. investor to make a qualifying electing fund election with respect to us. See “Material Tax Considerations—Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules” in the accompanying prospectus. U.S. investors should consult their tax advisers regarding our PFIC status for any taxable year and the potential application of the PFIC rules to an investment in our ADSs.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

We may issue and sell our ADSs having aggregate sales proceeds of up to $50,000,000 from time to time. Because there is no minimum offering amount required as a condition to close this offering, the actual total public offering amount, commissions and proceeds to us, if any, are not determinable at this time. We currently intend to use the net proceeds of this offering, if any, for advancing our clinical development programs, general corporate purposes and other business opportunities. Our expected use of net proceeds from this offering represents our current intentions based upon our present plans and business conditions. As of the date of this prospectus supplement, we cannot predict with certainty all of the particular uses for the net proceeds to be received upon the completion of this offering or the amounts that we will actually spend on the uses set forth above.

 

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PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION

We have entered into a sales agreement with SVB Leerink LLC (“SVB Leerink”), under which we may issue and sell from time to time up to $50,000,000 of our ADSs, each representing five ordinary shares, through SVB Leerink as our sales agent. Sales of our ADSs, if any, will be made at market prices by any method that is deemed to be an “at the market” offering as defined in Rule 415 under the Securities Act, including sales made directly on The Nasdaq Global Select Market or any other trading market for our ADSs, or sales to or through a market maker other than on an exchange. If authorized by us in writing, SVB Leerink may also sell our ADSs by any other method permitted by law, including negotiated transactions, and SVB Leerink may also purchase our ADSs as principal.

SVB Leerink will offer our ADSs subject to the terms and conditions of the sales agreement on a daily basis or as otherwise agreed upon by us and SVB Leerink. We will designate the maximum amount of ADSs to be sold through SVB Leerink on a daily basis or otherwise determine such maximum amount together with SVB Leerink. Subject to the terms and conditions of the sales agreement, SVB Leerink will use its commercially reasonable efforts to sell on our behalf all of the ADSs requested to be sold by us. We may instruct SVB Leerink not to sell ADSs if the sales cannot be effected at or above the price designated by us in any such instruction. SVB Leerink or we may suspend the offering of our ADSs being made through SVB Leerink under the sales agreement upon proper notice to the other party.

The aggregate compensation payable to SVB Leerink as sales agent equals up to 3% of the gross sales price of the ADSs sold through it pursuant to the sales agreement. We have also agreed to reimburse SVB Leerink up to $50,000 of SVB Leerink’s actual outside legal expenses incurred by SVB Leerink in connection with this offering, and for certain other expenses, including SVB Leerink’s FINRA counsel fees in an amount up to $10,000. In accordance with FINRA Rule 5110 these reimbursed fees and expenses are deemed sales compensation to SVB Leerink in connection with this offering. We estimate that the total expenses of the offering payable by us, excluding commissions payable to SVB Leerink under the sales agreement and ADS issuance fees payable to the depositary bank, will be approximately $30,000.

The remaining sales proceeds, after deducting any expenses payable by us and any transaction fees imposed by any governmental, regulatory, or self-regulatory organization in connection with the sales, will equal our net proceeds for the sale of such ADSs.

SVB Leerink will provide written confirmation to us following the close of trading on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on each day in which ADSs are sold through it as sales agent under the sales agreement. Each confirmation will include the number of ADSs sold through it as sales agent on that day, the volume weighted average price of the shares sold, the percentage of the daily trading volume and the net proceeds to us.

We will report at least quarterly the number of ADSs sold through SVB Leerink under the sales agreement, the net proceeds to us and the compensation paid by us to SVB Leerink in connection with the sales of ADSs.

Settlement for sales of ADSs will occur, unless the parties agree otherwise, on the second business day that is also a trading day following the date on which any sales were made in return for payment of the net proceeds to us. There is no arrangement for funds to be received in an escrow, trust or similar arrangement.

 

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In connection with the sales of our ADSs on our behalf, SVB Leerink may be deemed to be an “underwriter” within the meaning of the Securities Act, and the compensation paid to SVB Leerink may be deemed to be underwriting commissions or discounts. We have agreed in the sales agreement to provide indemnification and contribution to SVB Leerink against certain liabilities, including liabilities under the Securities Act. As sales agent, SVB Leerink will not engage in any transactions that stabilizes our ADSs.

Our ADSs are listed on The Nasdaq Global Select Market and trade under the symbol “MREO.” The depositary bank of our ADSs is Citibank, N.A.

The offering of our ADSs pursuant to the sales agreement will terminate upon the earlier of (i) the sale of all ADSs subject to the sales agreement and (ii) the termination of the sales agreement as permitted therein. We and SVB Leerink may each terminate the sales agreement at any time upon ten days’ prior notice.

This summary of the material provisions of the sales agreement does not purport to be a complete statement of its terms and conditions. A copy of the sales agreement is filed as an exhibit to the registration statement to which this prospectus supplement forms a part.

SVB Leerink and/or its affiliates have provided, and may in the future provide, various investment banking, commercial banking, financial advisory and other financial services for us and our affiliates, for which services they have received and, may in the future receive, customary fees. In the course of its business, SVB Leerink may actively trade our securities for its own account or for the accounts of customers, and, accordingly, SVB Leerink may at any time hold long or short positions in such securities.

In connection with a private placement we completed on June 4, 2020, SVB Leerink received certain cash compensation. Silicon Valley Bank, an affiliate of SVB Leerink, is also a lender under one of our loan agreements and holds warrants to purchase ordinary shares. To the extent we use proceeds from this offering to repay indebtedness under such loan agreement, Silicon Valley Bank may receive proceeds from this offering.

A prospectus supplement and the accompanying prospectus in electronic format may be made available on a website maintained by SVB Leerink, and SVB Leerink may distribute the prospectus supplement and the accompanying prospectus electronically.

 

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LEGAL MATTERS

Mayer Brown LLP has passed upon certain legal matters regarding the securities offered hereby. The validity of the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs to be offered pursuant to this prospectus supplement will be passed upon for us by Mayer Brown International LLP. SVB Leerink, LLC is being represented in connection with this offering by Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Kirkland & Ellis (International) LLP.

EXPERTS

The consolidated financial statements of Mereo BioPharma Group plc appearing in Mereo BioPharma Group plc’s Annual Report (Form 20-F) for the year ended December 31, 2019, have been audited by Ernst & Young LLP, independent registered public accounting firm, as set forth in their report thereon, included therein, and incorporated herein by reference. Such consolidated financial statements are incorporated herein by reference in reliance upon such report given on the authority of such firm as experts in accounting and auditing.

The registered business address of Ernst & Young LLP is Apex Plaza, Forbury Road, Reading, RG1 1YE, United Kingdom.

 

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WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

We have filed with the SEC a registration statement (including amendments and exhibits to the registration statement) on Form F-3 under the Securities Act. This prospectus supplement, which is part of the registration statement, does not contain all of the information set forth in the registration statement and the exhibits and schedules to the registration statement. For further information, we refer you to the registration statement and the exhibits and schedules filed as part of the registration statement. If a document has been filed as an exhibit to the registration statement, we refer you to the copy of the document that has been filed. Each statement in this prospectus supplement relating to a document filed as an exhibit is qualified in all respects by the filed exhibit.

We are subject to the informational requirements of the Exchange Act. Accordingly, we are required to file reports and other information with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 20-F and reports on Form 6-K. The SEC maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information about issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov.

As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt under the Exchange Act from, among other things, the rules prescribing the furnishing and content of proxy statements, and our board members, executive officers, and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and short-swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the Exchange Act. In addition, we will not be required under the Exchange Act to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act.

We maintain a corporate website at https://www.mereobiopharma.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website does not constitute a part of this prospectus supplement and our website address is included in this prospectus supplement as an inactive textual reference only.

 

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INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The SEC allows us to “incorporate by reference” information into this prospectus supplement, which means that we can disclose important information to you by referring you to other documents which we have filed or will file with the SEC. We are incorporating by reference in this prospectus supplement the documents listed below and all amendments or supplements we may file to such documents, as well as any future filings we may make with the SEC on Form 20-F under the Exchange Act before the time that all of the securities offered by this prospectus supplement have been sold or de-registered:

 

   

Our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on June 15, 2020;

 

   

Our reports on Form 6-K furnished to the SEC on September 29, 2020, October 1, 2020 and October 19, 2020 that we incorporate by reference into this prospectus supplement; and

 

   

The description of our ordinary shares contained in Item 1 of the Registration Statement on Form 8-A, File No. 001-38452, originally filed with the SEC on April 9, 2018 and subsequently amended on April  15, 2019, as updated by Exhibit 2.2 to the 2019 Form 20-F, including the “Description of Ordinary Shares” and the “Description of American Depositary Shares” contained therein and any amendment or report filed for the purpose of further updating such descriptions.

In addition, any reports on Form 6-K submitted to the SEC by us pursuant to the Exchange Act after the date of the initial registration statement and prior to effectiveness of the registration statement that we specifically identify in such forms as being incorporated by reference into the registration statement of which this prospectus supplement forms a part and all subsequent annual reports on Form 20-F filed after the effective date of this registration statement and prior to the termination of this offering and any reports on Form 6-K subsequently submitted to the SEC or portions thereof that we specifically identify in such forms as being incorporated by reference into the registration statement of which this prospectus supplement forms a part, shall be considered to be incorporated into this prospectus supplement by reference and shall be considered a part of this prospectus supplement from the date of filing or submission of such documents.

As you read the above documents, you may find inconsistencies in information from one document to another. If you find inconsistencies between the documents and this prospectus supplement, you should rely on the statements made in the most recent document. All information appearing in this prospectus supplement is qualified in its entirety by the information and financial statements, including the notes thereto, contained in the documents incorporated by reference herein.

We will provide to each person, including any beneficial owner, to whom this prospectus supplement is delivered, a copy of these filings, at no cost, upon written or oral request to us at the following address:

Mereo BioPharma Group plc

1 Cavendish Place

4th Floor

London, W1G 0QF

United Kingdom

Tel: +44-333-023-7300

Attention: Investor Relations

 

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You should rely only on the information incorporated by reference or provided in this prospectus supplement. We have not authorized anyone else to provide you with different or additional information. An offer of these securities is not being made in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted. You should not assume that the information in this prospectus supplement is accurate as of any date other than the date on the front of those documents.

 

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PROSPECTUS

 

 

$200,000,000

 

LOGO

American Depositary Shares Representing Ordinary Shares

We may offer, from time to time, the ADSs described in this prospectus, for an aggregate offering price of up to $200,000,000.

We will provide you with the specific amount, price and terms of the applicable offered ADSs in one or more supplements to this prospectus. You should carefully read this prospectus and the applicable prospectus supplement, as well as the documents incorporated or deemed to be incorporated by reference in this prospectus, before you purchase any of the ADSs offered hereby.

We may offer and sell the ADSs in the same offering or in separate offerings, to or through underwriters, dealers, and agents, or directly to purchasers. The names of any underwriters, dealers, or agents involved in the sale of our ADSs, their compensation and any options to purchase additional ADSs held by them will be described in the applicable prospectus supplement. See “Plan of Distribution.”

Our ADSs trade on the Nasdaq Global Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “MREO.” In addition, our ordinary shares trade on AIM, a market of the London Stock Exchange, under the symbol “MPH.” On October 5, 2020, the last reported sale price of our ADSs on Nasdaq was $2.44 per ADS.

We are both an “emerging growth company” and a “foreign private issuer” as defined under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and, as such, are subject to reduced public company reporting requirements. See “Prospectus Summary—Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company and a Foreign Private Issuer” for additional information.

Our business and an investment in our ADSs involve significant risks. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 5 of this prospectus.

Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed on the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS

    1  

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

    2  

RISK FACTORS

    5  

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

    6  

CAPITALIZATION

    8  

USE OF PROCEEDS

    9  

MATERIAL TAX CONSIDERATIONS

    10  

DESCRIPTION OF SHARE CAPITAL

    18  

DESCRIPTION OF AMERICAN DEPOSITARY SHARES

    40  

PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION

    52  

LEGAL MATTERS

    54  

EXPERTS

    54  

SERVICE OF PROCESS AND ENFORCEMENT OF LIABILITIES

    55  

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

    57  

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

    58  


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ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS

This prospectus is part of a shelf registration statement that we filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which we refer to as the “SEC,” utilizing a “shelf” registration process. Under this shelf registration process, we may, over time, offer and sell the ADSs described in this prospectus in one or more offerings, up to a total dollar amount of $200,000,000, as described in this prospectus. This prospectus provides you with a general description of the securities that may be offered. Each time we offer securities under this prospectus, we will provide a prospectus supplement or other offering materials that will contain specific information about the terms of that offering. We may also add, update or change information contained in this prospectus by means of a prospectus supplement or by incorporating by reference information that we file or furnish to the SEC. The registration statement that we filed with the SEC includes exhibits that provide more detail on the matters discussed in this prospectus. If the information in this prospectus is inconsistent with a prospectus supplement, you should rely on the information in that prospectus supplement. Please carefully read this prospectus and any prospectus supplement, together with the additional information described under the headings “Where You Can Find More Information” and “Incorporation by Reference,” before purchasing any securities.

You should rely only on the information contained or incorporated by reference in this prospectus, any prospectus supplement and any issuer free writing prospectus. “Incorporated by reference” means that we can disclose important information to you by referring you to another document filed separately with the SEC. We have not authorized any other person to provide you with different information. If anyone provides you with different information, you should not rely on it. We are not making an offer of these securities in any state or jurisdiction where the offer is not permitted. You should only assume that the information in this prospectus or in any prospectus supplement or issuer free writing prospectus is accurate only as of their respective dates. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since those dates.

Throughout this prospectus, and the documents incorporated by reference, unless otherwise designated, the terms “Mereo,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Mereo BioPharma Group plc and our wholly-owned subsidiaries Mereo BioPharma 1 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 2 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 3 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 4 Limited, Mereo BioPharma 5, Inc. (formerly OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), Mereo BioPharma Ireland Limited, Mereo US Holdings Inc. and NAVI Subsidiary, Inc. Our consolidated financial statements also treat Mereo BioPharma Group plc Employee Benefit Trust, an employee benefit trust operated by us, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ours. References in this prospectus to the “Merger” are to the merger of Mereo MergerCo One Inc. and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mereo US Holdings Inc., and as an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Mereo BioPharma Group plc pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Merger and Reorganization, dated December 5, 2018, by and among Mereo BioPharma Group plc, Mereo US Holdings Inc., Mereo MergerCo One Inc. and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.



 

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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

This summary highlights information contained elsewhere in this prospectus or incorporated by reference herein. This summary may not contain all the information that may be important to you, and we urge you to read this entire prospectus carefully, including the risks related to our business, our industry, investing in our ordinary shares, that we describe under “Risk Factors” and our consolidated financial statements, including the notes thereto, included and incorporated by reference in this prospectus, before deciding to invest in our ADSs.

Our Company

We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative therapeutics that aim to improve outcomes for oncology and rare diseases. We have developed a portfolio of six clinical stage product candidates. Our lead oncology product candidate, etigilimab (“Anti-TIGIT”), has completed a Phase 1a dose escalation clinical trial in patients with advanced solid tumors and has been evaluated in a Phase 1b study in combination with nivolumab in select tumor types. Our second oncology product, navicixizumab, for the treatment of late line ovarian cancer, has completed a Phase 1 study and has been partnered with OncXerna Therapeutics, Inc., formerly Oncologie, Inc. Our rare disease product candidates are setrusumab for the treatment of OI and alvelestat for the treatment of severe AATD which is being investigated in an ongoing Phase 2 proof-of-concept study in the U.S. and Europe and expect to report top line data from this study in the second half of 2021. The FDA recently granted Rare Pediatric Disease designation to setrusumab for the treatment of OI. Following the completion of our Phase 2b ASTEROID study, both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) have agreed on the principles of a design of a single Phase 3 pivotal pediatric study in OI and we plan to form a strategic partnership for the development of setrusumab prior to the initiation of a Phase 3 study.

We plan to develop our product candidates for oncology and rare diseases through the next key clinical milestone and then partner or in selected cases to develop through regulatory approval and potentially commercialization. We plan to partner or sell our other two product candidates (which do not target oncology or rare diseases), acumapimod for the treatment of AECOPD and leflutrozole for the treatment of infertility and HH in obese men, recognizing the need for greater resources to take these product candidates to market.

Our strategy is selectively to acquire and develop product candidates for oncology and rare diseases that have already received significant investment from large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and that have substantial pre-clinical, clinical and manufacturing data packages. Since our formation in March 2015, we have successfully executed on this strategy by acquiring, through asset purchases or exclusive licenses of certain intellectual property rights, six clinical-stage product candidates four of which were in oncology and rare diseases. We acquired four of these six clinical-stage product candidates from large pharmaceutical companies and acquired two in the Merger. We aim to efficiently develop our product candidates through the clinic and have commenced or completed large, randomized Phase 2 clinical trials for four of our product candidates.

Oncology and rare diseases represent an attractive development and in some cases commercialization opportunity for us since they typically have high unmet medical need and can utilize regulatory pathways that facilitate acceleration to approval and to the potential market. Development of products for oncology and rare diseases both involve close collaboration with key opinion leaders and investigators. Development of rare disease products generally involves close coordination with the patient organizations and patients are treated at a limited number of specialized sites which helps



 

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identification of the patient population and enables a small targeted sales infrastructure to commercialize the products in key markets.

Our team has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector in the identification, acquisition, development, manufacturing and commercialization of product candidates in multiple therapeutic areas. Our senior management has long-standing relationships with senior executives of large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, which we believe enhances our ability to form strategic partnerships on our product candidates and to identify and acquire additional product candidates.

Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company and a Foreign Private Issuer

Emerging Growth Company

We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). As an emerging growth company we have chosen to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other publicly traded entities that are not emerging growth companies. These exemptions include:

 

   

not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002;

 

   

not being required to comply with any requirement that may be adopted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report providing additional information about the audit and the financial statements (i.e., an auditor discussion and analysis);

 

   

not being required to submit certain executive compensation matters to shareholder advisory votes, such as “say-on-pay,” “say-on-frequency,” and “say-on-golden parachutes;” and

 

   

not being required to disclose certain executive compensation related items such as the correlation between executive compensation and performance and comparisons of the chief executive officer’s compensation to median employee compensation.

We may take advantage of these provisions until the earliest of: (i) the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion; (ii) the last day of 2024; (iii) the date that we become a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if the market value of our common equity held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter; or (iv) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during any three-year period.

As a result, we do not know if some investors will find our ADSs less attractive. The result may be a less active trading market for our ADSs, and the price of our ADSs may become more volatile.

Foreign Private Issuer

We report under the Exchange Act as a non-U.S. company with foreign private issuer status. Even after we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, as long as we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act we will be exempt from certain provisions of the Exchange Act that are applicable to U.S. domestic public companies, including:

 

   

the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;



 

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the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

   

the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q containing unaudited financial and other specific information, or current reports on Form 8-K, upon the occurrence of specified significant events.

Both foreign private issuers and emerging growth companies also are exempt from certain more stringent executive compensation disclosure rules. Thus, even if we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, but remain a foreign private issuer, we will continue to be exempt from the more stringent compensation disclosures required of companies that are neither an emerging growth company nor a foreign private issuer.

As a foreign private issuer, we are permitted to follow the corporate governance practices of our home country in lieu of certain provisions of the Nasdaq. We therefore follow U.K. corporate governance practices in lieu of certain Nasdaq corporate governance requirements including the requirement to seek shareholder approval for a specified issuance of securities.

Corporate Information

We were incorporated as a private limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group Limited under the laws of England and Wales on March 10, 2015 with the company number 09481161. On June 3, 2016, we re-registered as a public limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group plc. Our registered office address is Fourth Floor, One Cavendish Place, London, W1G 0QF, United Kingdom and our telephone number is +44 (0) 33 3023 7300. Our website address is www.mereobiopharma.com. The information contained on, or that can be accessed from, our website does not form part of this prospectus. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Mereo US Holdings Inc.



 

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RISK FACTORS

Investing in our securities involves significant risks. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks described below and under “Risk Factors” under Item 3.D. – “Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F, and any updates in our Reports on Form 6-K, together with all of the other information appearing in this prospectus or incorporated by reference into this prospectus, in light of your particular investment objectives and financial circumstances. The risks so described are not the only risks facing us. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. The trading price of our securities could decline due to any of these risks, and you may lose all or part of your investment. The discussion of risks includes or refers to forward-looking statements; you should read the explanation of the qualifications and limitations on such forward-looking statements discussed elsewhere in this prospectus.

We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify additional material weaknesses in the future that may cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations or result in material misstatements of our financial statements. If we fail to remediate our material weakness or if we fail to establish and maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to report our financial results accurately or to prevent fraud.

Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires management of public companies to develop and implement internal controls over financial reporting and evaluate the effectiveness thereof. A material weakness is a deficiency or a combination of deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.

During the six months ended June 30, 2020 the understaffing of our accounting department was driven primarily by the departure of several members of our accounting department following the departure of our former chief financial officer which was announced on March 27, 2020 and occurred on July 31, 2020. As a result. in connection with the preparation of our unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements as of and for the six month period ended June 30, 2020, we identified a material weakness in our internal controls related to the lack of IFRS technical accounting skills due to an understaffed accounting department and a lack of effective management review controls, including controls over complex accounting transactions as part of our overall financial statement close process.

In response to such material weakness, we are in the process hiring a full-time chief financial officer and will then expand our accounting and financial department to include professionals with the experience and knowledge necessary to review technical IFRS accounting matters and perform appropriate review procedures over future financial statement close processes to address the material weakness identified. Although we are working to remediate the material weakness as quickly and efficiently as possible, we cannot at this time estimate how long it will take, and our initiatives may not prove to be successful in remediating the material weakness. If we are unable to successfully remediate our identified material weakness, if we discover additional material weaknesses or if we otherwise are unable to report our financial statements accurately or in a timely manner, we would be required to continue disclosing such material weaknesses in future filings with the SEC, which could adversely affect our business, investor confidence in our company and the market price of our ordinary shares and ADSs and could subject us to litigation or regulatory enforcement actions. As a result, shareholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the market value of our ordinary shares and ADSs.

 

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CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus and the documents incorporated into it contain statements that constitute forward-looking statements. Many of these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “potential” and “should,” among others.

Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this prospectus and the documents incorporated into it and include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our intent, belief, or current expectations. Forward-looking statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to our management. Such statements are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements due to various important factors, including, but not limited to, those identified under “Risk Factors.” In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a guarantee by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all.

Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

 

   

the development of our product candidates, including statements regarding the expected initiation, timing, progress, and availability of data from our clinical trials;

 

   

the potential attributes and benefits of our product candidates and their competitive position;

 

   

our ability to partner or sell our two product candidates, acumapimod for the treatment of AECOPD and leflutrozole for the treatment of infertility and HH in obese men, on attractive terms or at all;

 

   

our ability to successfully commercialize, or enter into strategic relationships with third parties to commercialize, our product candidates, if approved;

 

   

our estimates regarding expenses, future revenues, capital requirements, and our need for additional financing;

 

   

the potential volatility in the price of our ordinary shares and ADSs if the shares sold through our recent private placements are sold on the market;

 

   

our being subject to ongoing regulatory obligations if our products secure regulatory approval;

 

   

our reliance on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and on third-party suppliers to supply or produce our product candidates;

 

   

the patient market size of any diseases and market adoption of our products by physicians and patients;

 

   

our ability to obtain and maintain adequate intellectual property rights and adequately protect and enforce such rights;

 

   

the duration of our patent portfolio;

 

   

the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated disruptions that could materially impact our business including planned clinical developments and our ongoing clinical studies;

 

   

the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union could lead to increased market volatility, make it more difficult for us to do business in Europe or have other adverse effects on our business;

 

   

our ability to retain key personnel and recruit additional qualified personnel;

 

   

our ability to manage growth;

 

   

our ability to successfully integrate and realize the benefits of our past or future strategic acquisitions or investments; and

 

   

other risk factors discussed under “Risk Factors.”

 

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Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to update them in light of new information or future developments or to release publicly any revisions to these statements in order to reflect later events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

You should read this prospectus and the documents that we incorporate by reference in this prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

 

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CAPITALIZATION

The table below sets forth our capitalization, cash and short-term deposits as of June 30, 2020, the latest date for which we have unaudited financial statements and the information below available to us. The following information should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes incorporated by reference in this prospectus. For more details on how you can obtain the documents incorporated by reference in this prospectus, see “Where You Can Find More Information” and “Incorporation by Reference”.

For the convenience of the reader, we have translated pound sterling amounts in the table below into U.S. dollars at an exchange rate of £0.811 to US$1.00, the exchange rate for pound sterling on June 30, 2020. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or any other exchange rate as of that or any other date.

 

    Unaudited  
    As of June 30, 2020  
    (in thousands)  

Cash and short-term deposits

  £ 56,821      $ 70,037  
 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total interest bearing loans and borrowings

  £ 14,506      $ 17,880  

Warrant liability

    35,757        44,074  
 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Equity:

    

Issued capital

    1,016        1,253  

EBT shares

    (1,305      (1,608

Share premium

    161,785        199,417  

Other capital reserves

    127,727        157,437  

Accumulated loss

    (270,681      (333,643

Other reserves

    4,875        6,009  

Translation reserve

    825        1,017  
 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total equity

    24,242        29,882  
 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total capitalization

  £ 74,505      $ 91,836  
 

 

 

    

 

 

 

The number of ordinary shares indicated as issued and outstanding above is based on 338,713,962 ordinary shares outstanding as of June 30, 2020. As of June 30, 2020, our net tangible book value was negative £7.6 million.

 

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USE OF PROCEEDS

Unless otherwise indicated in a prospectus supplement, the net proceeds from our sale of the ADSs will be used for advancing our clinical development programs, general corporate purposes and other business opportunities.

 

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MATERIAL TAX CONSIDERATIONS

Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations

The following is a discussion of the material U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. Holders (as defined below) of owning and disposing of the ADSs or ordinary shares, but it does not purport to be a comprehensive description of all tax considerations that may be relevant to a particular person’s decision to acquire the ADSs or ordinary shares. This discussion applies only to a U.S. Holder that acquires ADSs in this offering and holds the ADSs or ordinary shares as capital assets for U.S. federal income tax purposes. In addition, it does not describe all of the tax consequences that may be relevant in light of the U.S. Holder’s particular circumstances, including any estate, gift, alternative minimum or Medicare contribution tax consequences, any state, local or non-U.S. tax considerations, and any tax consequences applicable to U.S. Holders subject to special rules, such as:

 

   

banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions;

 

   

real estate investment trusts or regulated investment companies;

 

   

dealers or traders in securities that use a mark-to-market method of tax accounting;

 

   

persons holding our ADSs or ordinary shares as part of a straddle, integrated transaction or similar transaction;

 

   

persons whose functional currency for U.S. federal income tax purposes is not the U.S. dollar;

 

   

entities or arrangements treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes and their partners or investors;

 

   

tax-exempt entities, “individual retirement accounts” or “Roth IRAs”;

 

   

S corporations;

 

   

former citizens or residents of the United States;

 

   

a person that is subject to special tax accounting rules under section 451(b) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”);

 

   

persons that own or are deemed to own 10% or more of our stock by vote or value; or

 

   

persons holding our ADSs or ordinary shares in connection with a trade or business outside the United States.

If a partnership (or other entity that is classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes) owns the ADSs or ordinary shares, the U.S. federal income tax treatment of a partner will generally depend on the status of the partner and the activities of the partner and the partnership. Partnerships owning the ADSs or ordinary shares and partners in such partnerships should consult their tax advisers as to the particular U.S. federal income tax consequences of owning and disposing of the ADSs or ordinary shares.

Persons that own or are deemed to own 10% or more of our stock by vote or value should consult their tax advisers regarding the application of the “controlled foreign corporation” rules to their ownership of our ADSs or ordinary shares.

This discussion is based on the Code, administrative pronouncements, judicial decisions, and final, temporary and proposed Treasury regulations, all as of the date hereof, any of which is subject to change, possibly with retroactive effect. We have not sought and do not intend to seek any ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) with respect to the U.S. federal income tax consequences described herein and there can be no assurance that the IRS or a court will not take a contrary position.

 

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As used herein, a “U.S. Holder” is a person that, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, is a beneficial owner of our ADSs or ordinary shares and is:

 

   

an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States;

 

   

a corporation, or other entity taxable as a corporation, created or organized in or under the laws of the United States, any state therein or the District of Columbia;

 

   

an estate the income of which is subject to U.S. federal income taxation regardless of its source; or

 

   

a trust that (i) is subject to the primary supervision of a court within the United States and subject to the control of one or more U.S. persons for all substantial decisions or (ii) has a valid election in effect under applicable U.S. Treasury regulations to be treated as a U.S. person.

U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers concerning the U.S. federal, state, local and non-U.S. tax consequences of owning and disposing of our ADSs or ordinary shares in their particular circumstances.

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, a beneficial owner of our ADSs generally will be treated as the owner of the underlying ordinary shares represented by such ADSs. Accordingly, gain or loss will generally not be recognized if a U.S. Holder exchanges our ADSs for the underlying ordinary shares.

Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules

Special U.S. tax rules apply to U.S. Holders of stock in a company that is considered to be a passive foreign investment company (a “PFIC”). In general, a non-U.S. corporation will be a PFIC for any taxable year in which (i) 75% or more of its gross income consists of passive income (the “income test”) or (ii) 50% or more of the value of its assets (generally determined on a quarterly average basis) consists of assets that produce, or are held for the production of, passive income (the “asset test”). For purposes of the above calculations, a non-U.S. corporation that directly or indirectly owns at least 25% by value of the shares of another corporation is treated as if it held its proportionate share of the assets of the other corporation and received directly its proportionate share of the income of the other corporation. Passive income generally includes interest, dividends, gains from certain property transactions, rents and royalties (other than certain rents or royalties derived in the active conduct of a trade or business). Cash is a passive asset for PFIC purposes. Goodwill (the value of which may be determined by reference to the company’s market capitalization) is generally treated as an active asset to the extent attributable to activities intended to produce active income.

Based on our gross income, the average value of our assets, including goodwill, and the nature of the current stage of our business, we believe we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2019. There can be no assurance regarding our PFIC status for the current taxable year or any particular year in the future because PFIC status is factual in nature, depends upon factors not wholly within our control, generally cannot be determined until the close of the taxable year in question and is determined annually. Accordingly, U.S. Holders should invest in our ADSs only if they are willing to bear the U.S. federal income tax consequences associated with investments in PFICs.

We will provide the information necessary for a U.S. Holder to make a qualifying electing fund election (“QEF Election”) with respect to us and we will also use our best efforts to cause each Lower-tier PFIC (as defined below) that we control to provide such information. We intend to provide this information for any taxable year during which our only income is interest income or income from financial investments and for any other taxable year for which we determine that we were a PFIC. However, no assurance can be given that such QEF information will be available for any Lower-tier PFIC that we do not wholly-own. We will post the information necessary to make QEF Elections on our

 

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website. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year, the consequences to any U.S. Holder will depend in part on whether the U.S. Holder makes a valid QEF Election or mark-to-market election as described below.

If we are a PFIC for any taxable year and any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries or other companies in which we own equity interests were also a PFIC (any such entity, a “Lower-tier PFIC”), U.S. Holders would be deemed to own a proportionate amount (by value) of the shares of each Lower-tier PFIC and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax according to the rules described in the subsequent paragraph on (i) certain distributions by a Lower-tier PFIC and (ii) dispositions of shares of Lower-tier PFICs, in each case as if the U.S. Holders held such shares directly, even though the U.S. Holders had not received the proceeds of those distributions or dispositions.

Generally, if we were a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or ordinary shares and the U.S. Holder does not make a valid QEF Election or a mark-to-market election (described below), gain recognized upon a disposition (including, under certain circumstances, a pledge) of our ADSs or ordinary shares by the U.S. Holder will be allocated ratably over the U.S. Holder’s holding period for such ADSs or ordinary shares. The amounts allocated to the taxable year of disposition and to years before we became a PFIC will be taxed as ordinary income. The amounts allocated to each other taxable year will be subject to tax at the highest rate in effect for that taxable year for individuals or corporations, as applicable, and an interest charge will be imposed on the resulting tax liability for each relevant taxable year. Further, to the extent that any distribution received by a U.S. Holder on our ADSs or ordinary shares exceeds 125% of the average of the annual distributions received on such securities during the preceding three years or the U.S. Holder’s holding period, whichever is shorter (an “excess distribution”), such excess distribution will be subject to taxation in the same manner. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder owns our ADSs or ordinary shares, we will generally continue to be treated as a PFIC with respect to such U.S. Holder for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder owns our ADSs or ordinary shares, even if we cease to meet the threshold requirements for PFIC status. If we are a PFIC for any taxable year but cease to be PFIC for subsequent years, U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the advisability of making a “deemed sale” election that would allow them to eliminate the continuing PFIC status under certain circumstances.

To avoid the foregoing rules, a U.S. Holder can make a QEF Election to treat us and each Lower-tier PFIC as a qualified electing fund in the first taxable year that the entity is treated as a PFIC with respect to the U.S. Holder. A U.S. Holder must make the QEF Election for each PFIC by attaching a separate properly completed IRS Form 8621 for that PFIC to the U.S. Holder’s timely filed U.S. federal income tax return. A U.S. Holder making a QEF election other than for the first taxable year in which it owns (or is treated as owning) an equity interest in a PFIC would continue to be subject to the rules described in the preceding paragraph with respect to such PFIC, unless the U.S. Holder makes a “deemed sale” election with respect to the PFIC and recognizes gain taxed under the general PFIC rules described above with respect to the PFIC stock’s appreciation before the year for which the QEF Election is made.

If a U.S. Holder makes a QEF Election with respect to a PFIC, the U.S. Holder will be taxed on its pro rata share of the PFIC’s ordinary earnings and net capital gain (at ordinary income and capital gain rates, respectively) for each taxable year that the entity is a PFIC. If a U.S. Holder makes a QEF Election with respect to us, any distributions we pay out of our earnings and profits that were previously included in the U.S. Holder’s income under the QEF Election would not be taxable to the U.S. Holder. A U.S. Holder will increase its tax basis in its ADSs or ordinary shares by an amount equal to any income included under the QEF Election and will decrease its tax basis by any amount distributed on the ADSs or ordinary shares that is not included in the U.S. Holder’s income. In addition, a U.S. Holder will recognize capital gain or loss on the disposition of ADSs or ordinary shares in an amount equal to

 

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the difference between the amount realized and the U.S. Holder’s adjusted tax basis in the ADSs or ordinary shares, as determined in U.S. dollars. A. U.S. Holder will not be taxed on the ordinary income and net capital gain under the qualified electing fund rules for any year that we are not a PFIC.

Based on the nature of our expected income, the expected composition of our assets, and our business prospects, we do not currently expect to have significant ordinary earnings or net capital gain in any taxable year in which we may be a PFIC. However, it is difficult to predict the nature and composition of our income and assets and the value of our assets in light of the volatile nature of earnings patterns of emerging pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies such as us. Accordingly, U.S. Holders should note that if they make QEF Elections with respect to us and our subsidiaries, they may be required to pay U.S. federal income tax with respect to their ADSs or ordinary shares for any taxable year in which we have a positive amount of earnings or net capital gains even if we do not make any distributions in such year. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the advisability of making QEF Elections in their particular circumstances.

Alternatively, if we are a PFIC for any taxable year and if our ADSs or ordinary shares are “regularly traded” on a “qualified exchange,” a U.S. Holder could make a mark-to-market election that will result in tax treatment different from the general tax treatment described in the two preceding paragraphs. Our ADSs and/or ordinary shares will be treated as “regularly traded” in any calendar year in which more than a de minimis quantity of the ADSs and/or ordinary shares are traded on a qualified exchange on at least 15 days during each calendar quarter. NASDAQ, on which the ADSs are listed, is a qualified exchange for this purpose. The Internal Revenue Service has not identified specific non-U.S. exchanges that are “qualified” for this purpose. If a U.S. Holder makes a valid mark-to-market election, the U.S. Holder generally will recognize as ordinary income any excess of the fair market value of its ADSs or ordinary shares at the end of each taxable year over the adjusted tax basis of such ADSs or ordinary shares, and will recognize an ordinary loss in respect of any excess of the adjusted tax basis of its ADSs or ordinary shares over their fair market value at the end of the taxable year (but only to the extent of the net amount of income previously included as a result of the mark-to-market election). If a U.S. Holder makes the election, the U.S. Holder’s tax basis in our ADSs or ordinary shares will be adjusted to reflect these income or loss amounts. Any gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of our ADSs or ordinary shares in a year in which we are a PFIC will be treated as ordinary income and any loss will be treated as an ordinary loss (but only to the extent of the net amount of income previously included as a result of the mark-to-market election). If a valid mark-to-market election is made for any year in which we are a PFIC, distributions will be treated as described below under “—Taxation of Distributions” except that the preferential tax rates on dividends paid to non-corporate U.S. Holders will not apply. U.S. Holders will not be able to make a mark-to-market election with respect to Lower-tier PFICs, if any. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers as to the availability and desirability of a mark-to-market election in their particular circumstances if we are a PFIC for any taxable year.

If a U.S. Holder owns our ADSs or ordinary shares during any year in which we are a PFIC, the U.S. Holder generally will be required to file annual reports on IRS Form 8621 (or any successor form) with respect to us and any Lower-tier PFIC, generally with the U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax return for that year. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding our PFIC status for any taxable year and the potential application of the PFIC rules to an investment in our ADSs or ordinary shares.

Taxation of Distributions

This discussion under “—Taxation of Distributions” is subject to the PFIC rules described in “—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules” above. Distributions paid on ADSs or ordinary shares, other than certain pro rata distributions of our ordinary shares, will be treated as dividends to the extent

 

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paid out of our current or accumulated earnings and profits, as determined under U.S. federal income tax principles. Distributions in excess of our current and accumulated earnings and profits will be treated first as a tax-free return of capital to the extent of the U.S. Holder’s basis in the ADSs or ordinary shares and then as capital gain. For any taxable year in which we do not maintain calculations of our earnings and profits under U.S. federal income tax principles, it is expected that any distributions generally will be reported to U.S. Holders as dividends. Dividends will not be eligible for the dividends-received deduction generally available to U.S. corporations under the Code. Subject to applicable limitations, dividends paid to certain non-corporate U.S. Holders may be eligible for taxation at a preferential tax rate provided that we were not a PFIC for the taxable year in which the dividend is paid or the prior taxable year. Non-corporate U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the availability of this preferential rate in the light of the discussion in “—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules” above and their particular circumstances.

If dividend payments in respect of our ADSs or ordinary shares are made in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, the amount of the dividend distribution that a U.S. Holder must include in income will be the U.S. dollar value of the payments made in such other currency, determined at the spot U.S. dollar exchange rate on the date the dividend distribution is includible in income, regardless of whether the payment is in fact converted into U.S. dollars. Generally, if the foreign currency received as a dividend is not converted into U.S. dollars on the date of receipt, any gain or loss resulting from currency exchange fluctuations during the period from the date the dividend payment is includible in income to the date the payment is actually converted into U.S. dollars will be treated as ordinary income or loss and will not be eligible for the special tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income. The gain or loss generally will be income or loss from sources within the United States for foreign tax credit limitation purposes. U.S. Holders are urged to consult their tax advisers regarding the tax consequences of receiving, converting or disposing of any non-U.S. currency, received or deemed received as dividends on our ADSs or ordinary shares or on the sale or retirement of an ADS or an ordinary share.

Dividends will be included in a U.S. Holder’s income on the date of the U.S. Holder’s, or in the case of our ADSs, the depositary’s, receipt. Dividends generally will be income from non-U.S. sources, which may be relevant in calculating a U.S. Holder’s foreign tax credit limitation. Subject to certain conditions and limitations, non-U.S. tax withheld, if any, on dividends may be deducted from such U.S. Holder’s taxable income or credited against such U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability. The limitation on foreign taxes eligible for credit is calculated separately with respect to specific classes of income. For this purpose, dividends that we distribute generally should constitute “passive category income,” or, in the case of certain U.S. Holders, “general category income.” A foreign tax credit for foreign taxes imposed on distributions may be denied if a U.S. Holder does not satisfy certain minimum holding period requirements. The rules relating to the determination of the foreign tax credit are complex, and U.S. Holders are urged to consult their tax advisers to determine whether and to what extent such U.S. Holder will be entitled to a foreign tax credit.

Sale or Other Taxable Disposition

Except as described under “—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules” above, a U.S. Holder will generally recognize capital gain or loss on a sale or other taxable disposition of our ADSs or ordinary shares in an amount equal to the difference between the amount realized on the sale or disposition and the U.S. Holder’s tax basis in the ADSs or ordinary shares disposed of, in each case as determined in U.S. dollars. A U.S. Holder’s initial tax basis in the ADSs or ordinary shares will generally equal the cost of such ADSs or ordinary shares. If a U.S. Holder used foreign currency to purchase the ADSs or ordinary shares, the cost of the ADSs or ordinary shares will be the U.S. dollar value of the foreign currency purchase price on the date of purchase, translated at the spot rate of exchange on that date. Any such gain or loss will be long-term capital gain or loss if at the time of the sale or disposition the U.S. Holder has owned our ADSs or ordinary shares for more than one year. Long-term

 

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capital gains recognized by non-corporate U.S. Holders may be subject to a tax rate that is lower than the applicable ordinary income rate. The deductibility of capital losses is subject to limitations. Any capital gain or loss recognized upon the sale or disposition of the ADSs or ordinary shares will generally be treated as U.S.-source income for foreign tax credit limitation purposes. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the proper treatment of gain or loss, the availability of a foreign tax credit, and, for U.S. Holders that sell the ADSs or ordinary shares for an amount denominated in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, any potential foreign currency gain or loss that may have to be recognized.

Information Reporting and Backup Withholding

In general, payments of dividends and proceeds from the sale or other disposition of our ADSs or ordinary shares that are made within the United States or through certain U.S.-related financial intermediaries may be subject to information reporting and backup withholding, unless (i) in the case of information reporting, the U.S. Holder is a corporation or other “exempt recipient” and (ii) in the case of backup withholding, the U.S. Holder provides a correct taxpayer identification number and certifies that it is not subject to backup withholding. Backup withholding is not an additional tax. The amount of any backup withholding from a payment to a U.S. Holder generally will be allowed as a credit against the U.S. Holder’s U.S. federal income tax liability and may entitle it to a refund, provided that the required information is timely furnished to the IRS. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding the application of the information reporting and backup withholding rules.

Information with Respect to Foreign Financial Assets

Certain U.S. Holders who are individuals (or certain specified entities) may be required to report information relating to their ownership of our ADSs or ordinary shares, or non-U.S. accounts through which our ADSs or ordinary shares are held, subject to certain exceptions. Penalties and potential other adverse tax consequences may be imposed if a U.S. Holder is required to submit such information to the IRS and fails to do so. U.S. Holders should consult their tax advisers regarding their reporting obligations with respect to our ADSs or ordinary shares.

Material United Kingdom Tax Considerations

The following is a description of the material U.K. tax considerations relating primarily to the ownership and disposal of our ADSs or ordinary shares by the U.S. Holders described above. The U.K. tax comments set out below are based on current U.K. tax law as applied in England and Wales, and HMRC practice (which may not be binding on HMRC) as at the date of this summary, both of which are subject to change, possibly with retrospective effect. They are intended as a general guide and, save where otherwise stated, only apply to you if you are not resident in the U.K. for U.K. tax purposes and do not hold our ADSs or ordinary shares for the purposes of a trade, profession or vocation that you carry on in the U.K. through a branch, agency or permanent establishment in the U.K. and if you hold our ADSs or ordinary shares as an investment for U.K. tax purposes and are not subject to special rules.

This summary does not address all possible tax consequences relating to an investment in our ADSs or ordinary shares. In particular it does not cover the U.K. inheritance tax consequences of holding our ADSs or ordinary shares. It assumes that DTC has not made an election under section 97A(1) of the Finance Act 1986. It assumes that we do not (and will not at any time) derive 75% or more of our qualifying asset value, directly or indirectly, from U.K. land, and that we are and remain solely resident in the U.K. for tax purposes. This summary is for general information only and is not intended to be, nor should it be considered to be, legal or tax advice to any particular holder. Holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares are strongly urged to consult their tax advisers in connection with the U.K. tax consequences of their investment in our ADSs.

 

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U.K. Taxation of Dividends

Mereo will not be required to withhold amounts for or on account of U.K. tax at source when paying a dividend in respect of its ADSs or ordinary shares.

Holders who hold our ADSs or ordinary shares as an investment, who are not resident in the U.K. for U.K. tax purposes and who do not hold their ADSs or ordinary shares in connection with any trade, profession or vocation carried on by them in the U.K. through a branch, agency or permanent establishment in the U.K. should not be subject to U.K. tax in respect of any dividends on our ADSs or ordinary shares.

U.K. Taxation of Capital Gains

An individual holder who is not resident in the U.K. for U.K. tax purposes should not be liable to U.K. capital gains tax on capital gains realized on the disposal of their ADSs or ordinary shares unless such holder carries on a trade, profession or vocation in the U.K. through a branch or agency in the U.K. to which ADSs or ordinary shares are attributable.

Any such individual holder of our ADSs or ordinary shares who is temporarily non-resident for U.K. tax purposes will, in certain circumstances, become liable to U.K. tax on capital gains in respect of gains realized while they were not resident in the U.K.

A corporate holder of our ADSs or ordinary shares which is not resident in the U.K. for U.K. tax purposes should not be liable for U.K. corporation tax on chargeable gains realized on the disposal of our ADSs or ordinary shares unless it carries on a trade in the U.K. through a permanent establishment in the U.K. to which our ADSs or ordinary shares are attributable.

Stamp Duty and Stamp Duty Reserve Tax

The following statements apply to all holders, regardless of their jurisdiction of tax residence.

It is assumed for the purposes of the following statements that all transfers or, or agreements to transfer, our ordinary shares are only made at times when (i) our ordinary shares are admitted to trading on AIM but are not listed on any market (with the term “listed” being construed in accordance with section 99A of the Finance Act 1986) and (ii) AIM continues to be accepted as a “recognized growth market” (as construed in accordance with section 99A of the Finance Act 1986). Holders of our ADSs who acquire ordinary shares upon cancelling their ADSs and then propose to transfer, or agree to transfer, our ordinary shares during such time as these conditions are not met (including during any period between the creation and issue of our ADSs and the admission to trading of our ordinary shares on AIM) are strongly urged to obtain their own advice.

No stamp duty is payable on the issue of our ordinary shares into a depositary receipt system (such as, Mereo understands, that operated by Citibank) or a clearance service (such as, Mereo understands, DTC). No stamp duty reserve tax (“SDRT”) should be payable on the issue of our ordinary shares into a depositary receipt system or a clearance service. Accordingly, no stamp duty or SDRT should be payable on the creation and issue of our ADSs pursuant to the issue of our ordinary shares to Citibank’s custodian.

No stamp duty or SDRT should be payable on transfers of, or agreements to transfer, our ordinary shares into a depositary receipt system or a clearance service.

No SDRT or stamp duty should be payable on paperless transfers of, or agreements to transfer, our ADSs through the facilities of DTC.

 

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No stamp duty should be payable on a written instrument transferring, or a written agreement to transfer, our ADSs provided the instrument or agreement is executed and remains at all times outside the U.K. No SDRT should be payable in respect of agreements to transfer our ADSs.

No stamp duty or SDRT should be payable on transfers of, or agreements to transfer, our ordinary shares outside of a depositary receipt system or a clearance service.

 

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DESCRIPTION OF SHARE CAPITAL

The following is a description of the ordinary shares, par value £0.003 per share, of Mereo BioPharma Group plc (the “Company,” “we” or “us”) which are represented by American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) with each ADS representing five of our ordinary shares registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). This description also summarizes relevant provisions of English law. The following summary does not purport to be complete and is subject to, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to, the applicable provisions of English law and the Company’s articles of association, a copy of which is filed as Exhibit 1.1 to the Annual Report on Form 20-F of the Company for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019. We encourage you to read the articles and the applicable provisions of English law for additional information.

General

We were incorporated as a private limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group Limited under the laws of England and Wales on March 10, 2015 with the company number 09481161. On June 3, 2016, we re-registered as a public limited company with the legal name Mereo BioPharma Group plc. Our principal executive offices are located at 4th Floor, One Cavendish Place, London, W1G 0QF, United Kingdom. The principal legislation under which we operate and our ordinary shares are issued is the U.K. Companies Act 2006.

Share Capital

As of August 1, 2020, our issued share capital was £1,016,141.89 equivalent to 338,713,962 ordinary shares. The nominal value of our ordinary shares, including ordinary shares in the form of ADSs, is £0.003 per ordinary share. Each issued ordinary share is fully paid. As of July 31, 2020, 48,160,620 of our ordinary shares were represented by 9,632,124 ADSs.

Following the passing of resolutions at in our annual general meeting held on June 29, 2020, our Board was authorized to (i) allot new shares or grant rights to subscribe for, or convert other securities into, shares up to an amount equal to 77% of our total issued ordinary share capital as at May 26, 2020, comprising ordinary shares with an aggregate nominal value of £288,070.78; and (ii) allot equity securities for cash without first being required to offer them to existing ordinary shareholders up to the same aggregate maximum nominal amount of £288,070.78 (including, for this purpose, the sale on a non-pre-emptive basis of any shares held in treasury). In each case, the authorization will last until the next annual general meeting or, if earlier, 15 months from the date of the passing of these resolutions. As of August 1, 2020, the Board has authorization to allot new ordinary shares with an aggregate nominal value of £288,078.78 and authorization to allot equity securities for cash on a non-pre-emptive basis up to a nominal value of £288,078.78. To the extent that this authorization and disapplication do not remain unutilized in a sufficient amount for the purpose of an offering of the securities described in this prospectus, our Board will require a further authorization to allot new shares and disapplication of statutory preemption rights to be granted by our shareholders in general meeting prior to proceeding with that offering.

Following the passing of resolutions at our general meeting held on June 30, 2020, the unsecured convertible loan notes due 2023 of the Company constituted pursuant to the loan note instrument dated June 3, 2020 (the “Tranche 1 Notes”) automatically converted into ordinary shares of £0.003 each in the capital of the Company except that no new ordinary shares were issued which would result in any person holding in excess of 9.9% of the aggregate voting rights in the Company as a result of the relevant conversion. As a result of automatic conversion, Tranche 1 Notes in an aggregate principal amount of £21,660,999 (together with accrued interest) converted into 125,061,475 new ordinary shares. Tranche 1 Notes in an aggregate principal amount of £18,872,672 remained outstanding after the conversion and are convertible into new ordinary shares in accordance with their terms.

 

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Options

As of December 31, 2019, there were options to purchase 11,357,738 ordinary shares outstanding under our equity incentive plans with a weighted average exercise price of £1.45 per ordinary share. The options generally lapse after 10 years from the date of the grant.

As of December 31, 2019, there were options to purchase 875,050 ADSs outstanding under our equity incentive plans with a weighted average exercise price of $4.29 per ADS. The options generally lapse after 4 years from the date of grant.

As of December 31, 2019, there were nil-cost options to purchase 162,997 ordinary shares outstanding under our DSP, which generally lapse one year after vesting.

On February 20, 2020, we issued options to purchase 962,836 ADSs with an exercise price of $1.84 per ADS to employees pursuant to the 2019 EIP. One quarter of the options become exercisable on the first anniversary of their grant date and, thereafter, vest in equal monthly installments over three years.

On February 20, 2020, we also issued options to purchase 77,000 ADSs with an exercise price of $1.84 per ADS to non-employees pursuant to the 2019 NED EIP. These options vest in equal monthly installments over the year following their grant date.

On August 12, 2020, we issued options to purchase 200,000 ADSs under Mereo’s 2019 EIP with a weighted average exercise price of $2.77 per ordinary share.

Each of our equity incentive plans includes provisions for potential adjustment of outstanding equity awards in connection with certain corporate transactions, in order to prevent dilution or enlargement of the intended benefits under such plans.

Novartis Notes

On June 3, 2016, we issued 3,463,563 notes to Novartis (the “Novartis Notes”). The Novartis Notes included an adjustment provision to prevent the dilution of the ordinary shares issuable to Novartis under certain circumstances.

On April 6, 2017, Novartis delivered to us a notice of conversion with respect to £1,398,552 aggregate principal amount of Novartis Notes. Pursuant to such notice, on April 26, 2017, £1,398,552 aggregate principal amount of Novartis Notes was converted into 632,829 fully paid ordinary shares. Additionally, in connection with such conversion, we issued 588,532 ordinary shares to Novartis.

On June 6, 2019 Novartis delivered to us a notice of conversion with respect to the aggregate principal amount and interest of the Novartis Notes. Pursuant to such notice, on June 21, 2019 the aggregate principal amount and interest of £2,367,004 due under the Novartis Notes was converted into 1,071,042 fully paid ordinary shares at the fixed conversion price of £2.21 per share. Additionally, in connection with such conversion, we issued 864,988 ordinary shares to Novartis. At June 30, 2019, there was no further liability under the Novartis Notes which were converted in full as at that date.

On February 10, 2020, we entered into a £3,841,479 convertible loan note instrument relating to the issue of 3,841,479 New Novartis Notes. The New Novartis Notes are convertible at any time at a fixed price of £0.265 per ordinary share. The New Novartis Notes included an adjustment provision to prevent the dilution of the ordinary shares issuable to Novartis under certain circumstances.

 

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Warrants

As of December 31, 2019, there were warrants to purchase 1,243,908 ordinary shares at a weighted average exercise price of £2.95 per ordinary share, including 621,954 warrants exercisable by Silicon Valley Bank and 621,954 warrants exercisable by Kreos Capital V (UK) Limited. These warrants will be capable of exercise until October 1, 2028. The warrants include an adjustment provision to prevent the dilution of the ordinary shares issuable to Silicon Valley Bank and Kreos Capital V (UK) Limited under certain circumstances. The Company, Silicon Valley Bank and Kreos Capital V (UK) Limited have yet to reach an agreement on the number of warrants to be issued to them as a result of the anti-dilution protections in our agreements with them following the various private placements by the Company in 2020. See note 7 to our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements for the six months ended June 30, 2020 incorporated by reference herein.

Warrants totalling 321,444 were issued in 2019 (2018: 41,286) that could potentially dilute basic earnings per share if converted.

On February 10, 2020, in connection with the New Novartis Notes, we entered into a warrant instrument with Novartis to issue 1,449,614 ordinary shares at a weighted average exercise price of £0.265 per ordinary share. These warrants will be capable of exercise until February 10, 2025. The warrants include an adjustment provision to prevent the dilution of the ordinary shares issuable to Novartis under certain circumstances.

On June 4, 2020, we announced the completion of a private placement (the “June 2020 Private Placement”), in connection with which the investors in the private placement received conditional warrants entitling the holders to subscribe for an aggregate of 161,048,366 new ordinary shares. As of August 1, 2020, there were 161,048,366 warrants outstanding to purchase ordinary shares at an exercise price of 34.8 pence per ordinary share, subject to the terms of the warrants. As of September 29, 2020, none of these warrants have been exercised to date.

Ordinary Shares

The following summarizes the rights of holders of our ordinary shares:

 

   

on a vote taken by poll, each holder of our ordinary shares is entitled to one vote per ordinary share at a meeting of shareholders (provided that certain shareholders each have their votes limited to 19.5% of the total voting share capital and any votes which would have otherwise been exercisable by them shall be deemed to be held and exercisable by the other shareholders, other than those and certain other shareholders, on a pro rata basis);

 

   

the holders of the ordinary shares shall be entitled to receive notice of, attend, speak, and vote at our general meetings; and

 

   

holders of our ordinary shares are entitled to receive such dividends as are recommended by our directors and declared by our shareholders.

Registered Shares

We are required by the U.K. Companies Act 2006 to keep a register of our shareholders. Under English law, the ordinary shares are issued when the name of the shareholder is entered in our share register. The share register therefore is prima facie evidence of the identity of our shareholders, and the shares that they hold. The share register generally provides limited, or no, information regarding the ultimate beneficial owners of our ordinary shares. Our share register is maintained by our registrar, Link Asset Services.

 

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Holders of our ADSs will not be treated as shareholders and their names will therefore not be entered in our share register. The depositary, the custodian or their nominees will be the holder of the ordinary shares underlying our ADSs. For discussion on our ADSs and ADS holder rights see “Description of American Depository Shares” in this prospectus. Holders of our ADSs have a right to receive the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs as discussed in “Description of American Depository Shares” in this prospectus.

Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, we must enter an allotment of ordinary shares in our share register as soon as practicable and in any event within two months of the allotment. We will perform all procedures necessary to update the share register with the number of ordinary shares to be issued to the depositary upon sale of the ADSs, pursuant to a supplemental prospectus. We also are required by the U.K. Companies Act 2006 to register a transfer of ordinary shares (or give the transferee notice of and reasons for refusal as the transferee may reasonably request) as soon as practicable and in any event within two months of receiving notice of the transfer.

We, any of our shareholders or any other affected person may apply to the court for rectification of the share register if:

 

   

the name of any person, without sufficient cause, is entered in or omitted from our register of members; or

 

   

a default is made or unnecessary delay takes place in entering on the register the fact of any person having ceased to be a member or on which we have a lien, provided that such refusal does not prevent dealings in the shares taking place on an open and proper basis.

Pre-emptive Rights

English law generally provides shareholders with pre-emptive rights when new shares are issued for cash; however, it is possible for the articles of association, or shareholders by special resolution, to exclude pre-emptive rights. Such an exclusion of pre-emptive rights may be for a maximum period of up to five years from the date of adoption of the articles of association, if the exclusion is contained in the articles of association, or from the date of the shareholder resolution, if the exclusion is by shareholder resolution. In either case, this exclusion would need to be renewed by our shareholders upon its expiration (i.e., at least every five years).

On June 29, 2020, our shareholders authorized our Board to exclude pre-emptive rights for a period until the end of our next annual general meeting or, if earlier, 15 months from June 29, 2020 in respect of the allotment of ordinary shares or the grant of rights to subscribe for or convert securities into ordinary shares up to a maximum aggregate nominal amount of £288,070.78. The nominal value of our ordinary shares is £0.003 per ordinary share. For further information relating to the Company’s existing authority to issue additional ordinary shares, see “—Share Capital.”

As of August 1, 2020, non pre-emptive authorization up to a maximum aggregate nominal amount of £288,070.78 remained available to the Company.

Articles of Association

The following is a description of our Articles as at the date hereof.

Shares and Rights Attaching to Them

Objects

The objects of our company are unrestricted.

 

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Share Rights

Subject to any special rights attaching to shares already in issue, our shares may be issued with or have attached to them any rights or restrictions as we may resolve by ordinary resolution of the shareholders or, failing such determination, as the board may determine.

Voting Rights

Without prejudice to any special rights, privileges or restrictions as to voting rights attached to any shares forming part of our share capital from time to time, the voting rights attaching to shares are as follows:

 

   

on a show of hands, every shareholder who (being an individual) is present in person and (being a corporation) is present by a duly authorized representative shall have one vote;

 

   

on a show of hands, each proxy present in person has one vote for and one vote against a resolution if the proxy has been duly appointed by more than one shareholder and the proxy has been instructed by one or more of those shareholders to vote for the resolution and by one or more other of those shareholders to vote against it;

 

   

on a show of hands, each proxy present in person has one vote for and one vote against a resolution if the proxy has been duly appointed by more than one shareholder entitled to vote on the resolution and either: (1) the proxy has been instructed by one or more of those shareholders to vote for the resolution and has been given any discretion by one or more other of those shareholders to vote and the proxy exercises that discretion to vote against it; or (2) the proxy has been instructed by one or more of those shareholders to vote against the resolution and has been given any discretion by one or more other of those shareholders to vote and the proxy exercises that discretion to vote for it; or

 

   

on a poll every shareholder who is present in person or by proxy shall have one vote for each share of which he or she is the holder, provided that certain shareholders each have their votes limited to 19.5% of the total voting share capital and any votes which would have otherwise been exercisable by them shall be deemed to be held and exercisable by the other shareholders, other than those and certain other shareholders, on a pro rata basis.

At any general meeting a resolution put to the vote of the meeting shall be decided on a show of hands unless a poll is demanded. Subject to the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, as described in “Differences in Corporate Law—Voting Rights” in this prospectus, a poll may be demanded by:

 

   

the chairman of the meeting;

 

   

the directors;

 

   

two or more persons having the right to vote on the resolution; or

 

   

a person or persons representing not less than 10% of the total voting rights of all shareholders having the right to vote on the resolution.

Restrictions on Voting

No shareholder shall (unless the Directors otherwise determine) be entitled to vote at any general meeting in respect of any share held by him or her unless all sums payable by him or her in respect of that share have been paid.

The board may from time to time make calls upon the shareholders in respect of any money unpaid on their shares and each shareholder shall (subject to at least 14 days’ notice specifying when and how the payment is to be made) pay at the time or times so specified the amount called on his or her shares.

 

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Dividends

We may, subject to the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 and our Articles, by ordinary resolution of shareholders declare dividends out of profits available for distribution in accordance with the respective rights of shareholders but no such dividend shall exceed the amount recommended by the directors. The board may from time to time pay shareholders such interim dividends as appear to the board to be justified by our financial position but, if at any time, our share capital is divided into different classes the board may not pay such interim dividends in respect of those shares which confer on the holders thereof deferred or non-preferential rights with regard to dividends if, at the time of payment, any preferential dividend is in arrears.

Subject to any special rights attaching to or the terms of issue of any share, all dividends shall be declared and paid according to the amounts paid up on the shares and shall be apportioned and paid pro rata according to the amounts paid up on the shares during any part or parts of the period in respect of which the dividend is paid.

No dividend or other moneys payable by us on or in respect of any share shall bear interest against us unless otherwise provided by the rights attached to the share or the provisions of another agreement between the shareholder and us. Any dividend unclaimed after a period of 12 years from the date such dividend became due for payment shall be forfeited and cease to remain owing.

Dividends may be declared or paid in any currency and the board may decide the rate of exchange for any currency conversions that may be required, and how any costs involved are to be met, in relation to the currency of any dividend.

Any general meeting declaring a dividend may by ordinary resolution of shareholders, upon the recommendation of the board, direct payment or satisfaction of such dividend wholly or in part by the distribution of non-cash assets of equivalent value, including shares or other securities in any company.

The directors may, if authorized by an ordinary resolution of shareholders, offer any holders of ordinary shares the right to elect to receive in lieu of a dividend, or part of a dividend, an allotment of ordinary shares credited as fully paid up.

Change of Control

There is no specific provision in our Articles that would have the effect of delaying, deferring, or preventing a change of control.

Distributions on Winding Up

If we are in liquidation, the liquidator may, if authorized by a special resolution of shareholders and any other authority required at law, divide among shareholders (excluding us to the extent we are a shareholder by virtue only of holding treasury shares) in specie or in kind the whole or any part of our assets (whether or not the assets consist of property of one kind or consist of properties of different kinds and the liquidator may for such purpose set such value as the liquidator deems fair upon any one or more class or classes of property and may determine how such division shall be carried out as between the shareholders or different classes of shareholders), or vest the whole or any part of such assets in trustees upon such trusts for the benefit of the shareholders as the liquidator determines (and our liquidation may be closed and we may be dissolved), but no shareholder shall be compelled to accept any shares or other assets upon which there is any liability.

 

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Variation of Rights

All or any of the rights and privileges attached to any class of shares issued may be varied or abrogated only with the consent in writing of the holders of not less than three-fourths in nominal value of the issued shares of that class (excluding any shares held as treasury shares) or by special resolution passed at a separate general meeting of the holders of such shares, subject to the other provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 and the terms of their issue. The U.K. Companies Act 2006 also provides a right to object to the variation of the share capital by the shareholders who did not vote in favor of the variation. Should 15% or more of the shareholders of the issued shares in question apply to the court to have the variation cancelled, the variation shall have no effect unless and until it is confirmed by the court.

Alteration to Share Capital

We may, by ordinary resolution of shareholders, consolidate all or any of our share capital into shares of larger amount than our existing shares, or sub-divide our shares or any of them into shares of a smaller amount. We may, by special resolution of shareholders, confirmed by the court, reduce our share capital or any capital redemption reserve or any share premium account in any manner authorized by the U.K. Companies Act 2006. We may redeem or purchase all or any of our shares as described in “—Other U.K. Law Considerations—Purchase of Own Shares.”

Preemption Rights

In certain circumstances, our shareholders may have statutory preemption rights under the U.K. Companies Act 2006 in respect of the allotment of new shares as described in “—Pre-emptive Rights” and “—Differences in Corporate Law—Pre-emptive Rights” in this prospectus.

Transfer of Shares

Any shareholder holding shares in certificated form may transfer all or any of his or her shares by an instrument of transfer in any usual form or any other form approved by the board. Any written instrument of transfer shall be signed by or on behalf of the transferor and (in the case of a partly paid share) the transferee.

In the case of uncertificated shares, the directors may take such action as they consider appropriate to achieve a transfer. The Uncertificated Securities Regulations 2001 permit shares to be issued and held in uncertificated form and transferred by means of a computer based system.

The board may decline to register any transfer of any share:

 

   

which is not a fully paid share;

 

   

where the transfer is not lodged at our registered office or such other place as the directors have appointed;

 

   

where the transfer is not accompanied by the share certificate to which it relates, or such other evidence as the board may reasonably require to show the transferor’s right to make the transfer, or evidence of the right of someone other than the transferor to make the transfer on the transferor’s behalf;

 

   

where the transfer is in respect of more than one class of share; and

 

   

where the number of joint holders to whom the share is to be transferred exceeds four.

If the board declines to register a transfer, it must return to the transferee the instrument of transfer together with notice of the refusal, unless the board suspects that the proposed transfer may be fraudulent.

 

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Shareholder Meetings

Annual General Meetings

In accordance with the U.K. Companies Act 2006, we are required in each year to hold an annual general meeting in addition to any other general meetings in that year and to specify the meeting as such in the notice convening it. The annual general meeting shall be convened whenever and wherever the board sees fit, subject to the requirements of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, as described in “—Differences in Corporate Law—Annual General Meeting” and “—Differences in Corporate Law—Notice of General Meetings” in this prospectus.

Notice of General Meetings

The arrangements for the calling of general meetings are described in “—Differences in Corporate Law—Notice of General Meetings” in this prospectus.

Quorum of General Meetings

No business, other than the appointment of the chair of the meeting, shall be transacted at any general meeting unless a quorum is present. At least two shareholders present in person or by proxy and entitled to vote shall be a quorum for all purposes.

Class Meetings

The provisions in the Articles relating to general meetings apply to every separate general meeting of the holders of a class of shares.

Directors

Number of Directors

We may not have less than two directors on the Board and not more than nine. We may, by ordinary resolution of the shareholders, vary the minimum and maximum number of directors from time to time.

Appointment of Directors

Subject to the provisions of the Articles, we may, by ordinary resolution of the shareholders or a decision of the directors, elect any person to be a director, either to fill a casual vacancy or as an addition to the existing board, provided the total number of directors does not exceed the maximum number fixed by or in accordance with the Articles. However, any person that is not a director retiring from the existing board must be recommended by the board or the person must have confirmed in writing to us their willingness to be elected as a director not later than seven days before the general meeting at which the relevant resolution is proposed.

Any director appointed by the board will hold office only until the next following annual general meeting at which they must retire. In addition, all directors must retire at the third annual general meeting following the annual general meeting at which such director was elected or last re-elected. Such directors are eligible for re-election at the annual general meeting at which they retire.

The shareholders may, at the meeting at which a director retires, fill the vacated office by electing a person and in default the retiring director shall, if willing to continue to act, be deemed to have been re-elected, unless at such meeting it is expressly resolved not to fill such vacated office or unless a resolution for the re-election of such director shall have been put to the meeting and lost.

 

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Other U.K. Law Considerations

Notification of Voting Rights

A shareholder in a public company incorporated in the United Kingdom whose shares are admitted to trading on AIM is required pursuant to Chapter 5 of the Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority to notify us of the percentage of his or her voting rights if the percentage of voting rights which he or she holds as a shareholder or through his or her direct or indirect holding of financial instruments (or a combination of such holdings) reaches, exceeds, or falls below 3%, 4%, 5%, and each 1% threshold thereafter up to 100% as a result of an acquisition or disposal of shares or financial instruments.

Mandatory Purchases and Acquisitions

Pursuant to Sections 979 to 991 of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, where a takeover offer has been made for us and the offeror has acquired or unconditionally contracted to acquire not less than 90% in value of the shares to which the offer relates and not less than 90% of the voting rights carried by those shares, the offeror may give notice to the holder of any shares to which the offer relates which the offeror has not acquired or unconditionally contracted to acquire that he or she wishes to acquire, and is entitled to so acquire, those shares on the same terms as the general offer. The offeror would do so by sending a notice to the outstanding minority shareholders telling them that it will compulsorily acquire their shares. Such notice must be sent within three months of the last day on which the offer can be accepted in the prescribed manner. The compulsory acquisition of the minority shareholders’ shares can be completed at the end of six weeks from the date the notice has been given, subject to the minority shareholders failing to successfully lodge an application to the court to prevent such compulsory acquisition any time prior to the end of those six weeks following which the offeror can execute a transfer of the outstanding shares in its favor and pay the consideration to us, which would hold the consideration on trust for the outstanding minority shareholders. The consideration offered to the outstanding minority shareholders whose shares are compulsorily acquired under the U.K. Companies Act 2006 must, in general, be the same as the consideration that was available under the takeover offer.

Sell Out

The U.K. Companies Act 2006 also gives our minority shareholders a right to be bought out in certain circumstances by an offeror who has made a takeover offer for all of our shares. The holder of shares to which the offer relates, and who has not otherwise accepted the offer, may require the offeror to acquire his or her shares if, prior to the expiry of the acceptance period for such offer, (i) the offeror has acquired or unconditionally agreed to acquire not less than 90% in value of the voting shares, and (ii) not less than 90% of the voting rights carried by those shares. The offeror may impose a time limit on the rights of minority shareholders to be bought out that is not less than three months after the end of the acceptance period. If a shareholder exercises his or her rights to be bought out, the offeror is required to acquire those shares on the terms of this offer or on such other terms as may be agreed.

Disclosure of Interest in Shares

Pursuant to Part 22 of the U.K. Companies Act 2006, we are empowered to give notice in writing to any person whom we know or have reasonable cause to believe to be interested in our shares, or to have been so interested at any time during the three years immediately preceding the date on which the notice is issued requiring such persons, within a reasonable time to disclose to us particulars of that person’s interest and (so far as is within his or her knowledge) particulars of any other interest that subsists or subsisted in those shares.

 

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Under our Articles, if a person defaults in supplying us with the required particulars in relation to the shares in question (“default shares”), within the prescribed period, the directors may by notice direct that:

 

   

in respect of the default shares, the relevant shareholder shall not be entitled to vote (either in person or by proxy) at any general meeting or to exercise any other right conferred by a shareholding in relation to general meetings;

 

   

where the default shares represent at least 0.25% of their class, (a) any dividend or other money payable in respect of the default shares shall be retained by us without liability to pay interest and/or (b) no transfers by the relevant shareholder of any default shares may be registered (unless the shareholder himself is not in default and the shareholder provides a certificate, in a form satisfactory to the directors, to the effect that after due and careful enquiry the shareholder is satisfied that none of the shares to be transferred are default shares); and

 

   

any shares held by the relevant shareholder in uncertificated form shall be converted into certificated form and that shareholder shall not after that be entitled to convert all or any shares held by him or her into uncertificated form (except with the authority of the directors) unless the shareholder himself is not in default and the shares which the shareholder wishes to convert are part only of the shareholder’s holding and the shareholder provides a certificate, in a form satisfactory to the directors, to the effect that after due and careful enquiry the shareholder is satisfied that none of the shares to be converted into uncertificated form are default shares.

Purchase of Own Shares

Under English law, a limited company may only purchase its own shares out of the distributable profits of the company or the proceeds of a fresh issue of shares made for the purpose of financing the purchase, provided that they are not restricted from doing so by their articles. A limited company may not purchase its own shares if, as a result of the purchase, there would no longer be any issued shares of the company other than redeemable shares or shares held as treasury shares. Shares must be fully paid in order to be repurchased.

Subject to the above, we may purchase our own shares in the manner prescribed below. We may make a market purchase of our own fully paid shares pursuant to an ordinary resolution of shareholders. The resolution authorizing the purchase must:

 

   

specify the maximum number of shares authorized to be acquired;

 

   

determine the maximum and minimum prices that may be paid for the shares; and

 

   

specify a date, not being later than five years after the passing of the resolution, on which the authority to purchase is to expire.

We may purchase our own fully paid shares otherwise than on a recognized investment exchange pursuant to a purchase contract authorized by resolution of shareholders before the purchase takes place. Any authority will not be effective if any shareholder from whom we propose to purchase shares votes on the resolution and the resolution would not have been passed if he or she had not done so. The resolution authorizing the purchase must specify a date, not being later than five years after the passing of the resolution, on which the authority to purchase is to expire.

Distributions and Dividends

Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, before a company can lawfully make a distribution or dividend, it must ensure that it has sufficient distributable reserves (on a non-consolidated basis). The basic rule is that a company’s profits available for the purpose of making a distribution are its accumulated, realized profits, so far as not previously utilized by distribution or capitalization, less its accumulated, realized losses, so far as not previously written off in a reduction or reorganization of capital duly made. The

 

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requirement to have sufficient distributable reserves before a distribution or dividend can be paid applies to us and to each of our subsidiaries that has been incorporated under English law.

It is not sufficient that we, as a public company, have made a distributable profit for the purpose of making a distribution. An additional capital maintenance requirement is imposed on us to ensure that the net worth of the company is at least equal to the amount of its capital. A public company can only make a distribution:

 

   

if, at the time that the distribution is made, the amount of its net assets (that is, the total excess of assets over liabilities) is not less than the total of its called up share capital and undistributable reserves; and

 

   

if, and to the extent that, the distribution itself, at the time that it is made, does not reduce the amount of the net assets to less than that total.

City Code on Takeovers and Mergers

As a public company incorporated in England and Wales with our registered office in England and Wales which has shares admitted to AIM, we are subject to the U.K. City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the “City Code”), which is issued and administered by the U.K. Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (the “Panel”). The City Code provides a framework within which takeovers of companies subject to it are conducted. In particular, the City Code contains certain rules in respect of mandatory offers. Under Rule 9 of the City Code, if a person:

 

   

acquires an interest in our shares which, when taken together with shares in which he or she or persons acting in concert with him or her are interested, carries 30% or more of the voting rights of our shares; or

 

   

who, together with persons acting in concert with him, is interested in shares that in the aggregate carry not less than 30% and not more than 50% of the voting rights of our shares, and such persons, or any person acting in concert with him, acquires additional interests in shares that increase the percentage of shares carrying voting rights in which that person is interested,

the acquirer and depending on the circumstances, its concert parties, would be required (except with the consent of the Panel) to make a cash offer for our outstanding shares at a price not less than the highest price paid for any interests in the shares by the acquirer or its concert parties during the previous 12 months.

Exchange Controls

There are no governmental laws, decrees, regulations or other legislation in the United Kingdom that may affect the import or export of capital, including the availability of cash and cash equivalents for use by us, or that may affect the remittance of dividends, interest, or other payments by us to non-resident holders of our ordinary shares or ADSs, other than withholding tax requirements. There is no limitation imposed by English law or in the Articles on the right of non-residents to hold or vote shares.

Differences in Corporate Law

The applicable provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 differ from laws applicable to U.S. corporations and their shareholders. Set forth below is a summary of certain differences between the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 applicable to us and the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware relating to shareholders’ rights and protections. This summary is not intended to be a complete discussion of the respective rights and it is qualified in its entirety by reference to Delaware law and English law.

 

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Number of Directors   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, a public limited company must have at least two directors. Our Articles further provide that, unless otherwise determined by an ordinary resolution, the number of our directors shall be not less than two nor more than nine in number.    Under Delaware law, a corporation must have at least one director and the number of directors shall be fixed by or in the manner provided in the bylaws.
  Our board of directors currently consists of nine members.   
  For as long as Novartis holds not less than one percent of our issued share capital, Novartis may appoint one observer who may attend, but not participate or vote in, any meeting of our board of directors.   
Removal of Directors   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, a company may remove a director without cause at a general meeting by way of an ordinary resolution of shareholders (which is passed by a simple majority of those voting in person or by proxy at a general meeting), irrespective of any provision of any agreement or service contract between the director and the company, provided that 28 clear days’ notice of the proposed resolution to remove the director is given and certain other procedural requirements under the U.K. Companies Act 2006 are followed (such as allowing the director to make representations against his or her removal either at the meeting or in writing).    Under Delaware law, unless otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation, any director or the entire board of directors may be removed, with or without cause, by the holders of a majority of the shares then entitled to vote at an election of directors, except (a) unless the certificate of incorporation provides otherwise, in the case of a corporation whose board of directors is classified, shareholders may effect such removal only for cause, or (b) in the case of a corporation having cumulative voting, if less than the entire board of directors is to be removed, no director may be removed without cause if the votes cast against his or her removal would be sufficient to elect him or her if then cumulatively voted at an election of the entire board of directors, or, if there are classes of directors, at an election of the class of directors of which he or she is a part.

 

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  In addition to any power of removal under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, under our Articles, we may, by special resolution or ordinary resolution (of which special notice has been given in accordance with section 312 of the U.K. Companies Act 2006) remove any director from office (but without prejudice to any claim he or she may have for damages for breach of any agreement between us and the relevant director) and, by ordinary resolution, appoint another person to act as director in his or her place.   
Vacancies on the Board of Directors   Under our Articles, we may by ordinary resolution appoint a person who is willing to act to be a director, either to fill a vacancy or as an additional director and our board of directors may appoint a person who is willing to act to be a director, either to fill a vacancy or as an additional director, provided in each case that the appointment does not cause the number of directors to exceed the number fixed by or in accordance with our Articles as the maximum number of directors.    Under Delaware law, vacancies and newly created directorships may be filled by a majority of the directors then in office (even though less than a quorum) or by a sole remaining director unless (a) otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation or by-laws of the corporation or (b) the certificate of incorporation directs that a particular class of stock is to elect such director, in which case a majority of the other directors elected by such class, or a sole remaining director elected by such class, will fill such vacancy.
Annual General Meeting   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, a public limited company must hold an annual general meeting in each six-month period following the company’s annual accounting reference date.    Under Delaware law, the annual meeting of stockholders shall be held at such place, on such date and at such time as may be designated from time to time by the board of directors or as provided in the certificate of incorporation or by the bylaws.
General Meeting   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, a general meeting of the shareholders of a public limited company may be called by the directors.    Under Delaware law, special meetings of the stockholders may be called by the board of directors or by such person or persons as may be authorized by the certificate of incorporation or by the bylaws.

 

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  Subject to the notice requirements of the U.K. Companies Act 2006 outlined below and subject to our Articles, a general meeting of our shareholders may be called by our board of directors whenever and at such times and places as it shall determine.   
  A general meeting may also be convened by our board of directors on the requisition of not less than two of our shareholders who hold at least 5% of our voting share capital.   
  General meetings at which special resolutions are proposed and passed generally involve proposals to change the name of the company, permit the company to issue new shares for cash without the shareholders’ pre-emptive right, amend the company’s articles of association, or carry out other matters where either the company’s articles of association or the U.K. Companies Act 2006 prescribe that a special resolution is required.   
  Other proposals relating to the ordinary course of the company’s business, such as the election of directors, would generally be the subject of an ordinary resolution and subject to our Articles.   
Notice of General Meetings   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, at least 21 clear days’ notice must be given for an annual general meeting and any resolutions to be proposed at that meeting. At least 14 clear days’ notice is required for any other general meeting.    Under Delaware law, unless otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, written notice of any meeting of the stockholders must be given to each stockholder entitled to vote at the meeting not less than ten nor more than 60 days before the date of the meeting and shall specify the place, date, hour, and purpose or purposes of the meeting.

 

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  In addition, certain matters, such as the removal of directors or auditors, require special notice, which is 28 clear days’ notice.   
Quorum   Our Articles provide that no business shall be transacted at any general meeting unless a quorum is present. Two qualifying persons present at a meeting and entitled to vote on the business to be transacted shall be a quorum, unless (1) each is a qualifying person only because he or she is authorized under the U.K. Companies Act 2006 to act as a representative of a corporation in relation to the meeting, and they are representatives of the same corporation, or (2) each is a qualifying person only because he or she is appointed as proxy of a shareholder in relation to the meeting, and they are proxies of the same shareholder.    The certificate of incorporation or bylaws may specify the number of shares, the holders of which shall be present or represented by proxy at any meeting in order to constitute a quorum, but in no event shall a quorum consist of less than one third of the shares entitled to vote at the meeting. In the absence of such specification in the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, a majority of the shares entitled to vote, present in person or represented by proxy, shall constitute a quorum at a meeting of stockholders.
  A “qualifying person” means (1) a person who is one of our shareholders, (2) a person authorized under the U.K. Companies Act 2006 to act as a representative of the corporation in relation to the meeting, or (3) a person appointed as proxy of a shareholder in relation to the meeting.   
Proxy   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, at any meeting of shareholders, a shareholder may designate another person to attend, speak and vote at the meeting on their behalf by proxy.    Under Delaware law, at any meeting of stockholders, a stockholder may designate another person to act for such stockholder by proxy, but no such proxy shall be voted or acted upon after three years from its date, unless the proxy provides for a longer period. A director of a Delaware corporation may not issue a proxy representing the director’s voting rights as a director.

 

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Issue of New Shares   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, the directors of a company must not exercise any power to allot shares or grant rights to subscribe for, or to convert any security into, shares unless they are authorized to do so by the company’s articles of association or by an ordinary resolution of the shareholders. Any authorization given must state the maximum amount of shares that may be allotted under it and specify the date on which it will expire, which must be not more than five years from the date the authorization was given. The authority can be renewed by a further resolution of the shareholders.    Under Delaware law, if the company’s certificate of incorporation so provides, the directors have the power to authorize additional stock. The directors may authorize capital stock to be issued for consideration consisting of cash, any tangible or intangible property or any benefit to the company or any combination thereof.
Pre-emptive Rights   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, “equity securities,” being (i) shares in the company other than shares that, with respect to dividends and capital, carry a right to participate only up to a specified amount in a distribution (“ordinary shares”) or (ii) rights to subscribe for, or to convert securities into, ordinary shares, proposed to be allotted for cash, must be offered first to the existing equity shareholders in the company in proportion to the respective nominal value of their holdings, unless an exception applies or a special resolution to the contrary has been passed by shareholders in a general meeting or the articles of association provide otherwise, in each case in accordance with the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006.    Under Delaware law, shareholders have no pre-emptive rights to subscribe to additional issues of stock or to any security convertible into such stock unless, and except to the extent that, such rights are expressly provided for in the certificate of incorporation.

 

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Authority to Allot   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, the directors of a company must not allot shares or grant rights to subscribe for or to convert any security into shares unless those shares are allotted, or those rights to subscribe or convert any security into shares are granted (as applicable) pursuant to an employee share scheme, an ordinary resolution to the contrary has been passed by shareholders in a general meeting, or the articles of association provide otherwise, in each case, in accordance with the provisions of the U.K. Companies Act 2006.    Under Delaware law, if the corporation’s charter or certificate of incorporation so provides, the board of directors has the power to authorize the issuance of stock. The board of directors may authorize capital stock to be issued for consideration consisting of cash, any tangible or intangible property or any benefit to the corporation or any combination thereof. It may determine the amount of such consideration by approving a formula. In the absence of actual fraud in the transaction, the judgment of the directors as to the value of such consideration is conclusive.
Liability of Directors and Officers   Under the U.K. Companies Act 2006, any provision (whether contained in a company’s articles of association or any contract or otherwise) that purports to exempt a director of a company (to any extent) from any liability that would otherwise attach to him in connection with any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust in relation to the company is void.    Under Delaware law, a corporation’s certificate of incorporation may include a provision eliminating or limiting the personal liability of a director to the corporation and its stockholders for damages arising from a breach of fiduciary duty as a director. However, no provision can limit the liability of a director for:
  Any provision by which we directly or indirectly provide an indemnity (to any extent) for a director of the company or of an “associated company” (i.e., a company that is a parent, subsidiary or sister company of us) against any liability attaching to him or her in connection with any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust in relation to the company of which he or she is a director is void except as permitted by the U.K. Companies Act 2006, which provides exceptions for us to:   

   any breach of the director’s duty of loyalty to the corporation or its stockholders;

 

   acts or omissions not in good faith or that involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law;

 

   intentional or negligent payment of unlawful dividends or stock purchases or redemptions; or

 

   any transaction from which the director derives an improper personal benefit.

 

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   purchase and maintain director and officer insurance insuring our directors or the directors of an associated company against any liability attaching in connection with any negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust in relation to the company of which he or she is a director;

  
 

   provide a “qualifying third party indemnity,” which is an indemnity against liability incurred by our directors and directors of an associated company to a person other than us or an associated company. Such indemnity must not cover criminal fines, penalties imposed by regulatory bodies, the defense costs of criminal proceedings where the director is found guilty, the defense costs of civil proceedings successfully brought against the director by the company or an associated company, or the costs of unsuccessful applications by the director for relief from liabilities for such matters; and

  
 

   provide a “qualifying pension scheme indemnity,” which is an indemnity against liability incurred in connection

  
 

   with the company’s activities as trustee of an occupational pension plan. Such indemnity must not cover a fine imposed in criminal proceedings, or sum payable to a regulatory authority by way of a penalty in respect of

  

 

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non-compliance with any requirement of a regulatory nature (however arising), or any liability incurred by the director in defending criminal proceedings in which he or she is convicted.

  
  Our Articles provide that it may indemnify each of our directors against:   
  The U.K. Companies Act 2006 also provides that we may lend each of our directors funds to meet expenditure incurred by him or her in defending any criminal or civil proceedings in connection with any alleged negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust by him or her in relation to us or an associated company, or in connection with an application for certain specified relief, subject to the requirement that the loan must be on terms that it is to be repaid if the defense or the application for relief is unsuccessful.   
Voting Rights   For a description of the voting rights contained in our Articles see “Description of the Share Capital and Articles of Association—Articles of Association—Shares and Rights Attaching to Them—Voting Rights” in this prospectus.    Delaware law provides that, unless otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation, each stockholder is entitled to one vote for each share of capital stock held by such stockholder.
Shareholder Vote on Certain Transactions   The U.K. Companies Act 2006 provides for schemes of arrangement, which are arrangements or compromises between a company and any class of shareholders or creditors and used in certain types of reconstructions, amalgamations, capital reorganizations or takeovers. These arrangements require:   

Generally, under Delaware law, unless the certificate of incorporation provides for the vote of a larger portion of the stock, closing of a merger, consolidation, sale, lease or exchange of all or substantially all of a corporation’s assets or dissolution requires:

 

   the approval of the board of directors; and

 

 

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  (1) the approval, at a shareholders’ or creditors’ meeting convened by order of a court of England and Wales, of a majority in number representing not less than 75% in value of the creditors or class of creditors or members or class of members (as the case may be) present and voting, either in person or by proxy; and (2) the approval of a court of England and Wales.   

   the approval by the vote of the holders of a majority of the outstanding stock or, if the certificate of incorporation provides for more or less than one vote per share, a majority of the votes of the outstanding stock of a corporation entitled to vote on the matter.

Standard of Conduct
for Directors
 

   Under English law, a director owes various statutory and fiduciary duties to the company, including:

 

   to act in the way he or she considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole;

 

   to avoid a situation in which he or she has, or can have, a direct or indirect interest that conflicts, or possibly conflicts, with the interests of the company;

 

   to act in accordance with the company’s constitution and only exercise his or her powers for the purposes for which they are conferred;

 

   to exercise independent judgment;

 

   to exercise reasonable care, skill, and diligence;

  

Delaware law does not contain specific provisions setting forth the standard of conduct of a director. The scope of the fiduciary duties of directors is generally determined by the courts of the State of Delaware. In general, directors have a duty to act without self-interest, on a well-informed basis and in a manner they reasonably believe to be in the best interest of the stockholders.

 

Directors of a Delaware corporation owe fiduciary duties of care and loyalty to the corporation and to its shareholders. The duty of care generally requires that a director act in good faith, with the care that an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances. Under this duty, a director must inform himself of all material information reasonably available regarding a significant transaction. The duty of loyalty requires that a director act in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the corporation. He or she must not use his or her corporate position for personal gain or advantage. In general, but subject to certain exceptions,

 

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   not to accept benefits from a third party conferred by reason of his or

 

   her being a director or doing, or not doing, anything as a director; and

 

   a duty to declare any interest that he or she has, whether directly or indirectly, in a proposed or existing transaction or arrangement with the company.

  

actions of a director are presumed to have been made on an informed basis, in good faith and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the corporation. However, this presumption may be rebutted by evidence of a breach of one of the fiduciary duties. Delaware courts have also imposed a heightened standard of conduct upon directors of a Delaware corporation who take any action designed to defeat a threatened change in control of the corporation.

 

In addition, under Delaware law, when the board of directors of a Delaware corporation approves the sale or break-up of a corporation, the board of directors may, in certain circumstances, have a duty to obtain the highest value reasonably available to the shareholders.

Shareholder Suits   Under English law, generally, the company, rather than its shareholders, is the proper claimant in an action in respect of a wrong done to the company or where there is an irregularity in the company’s internal management. Notwithstanding this general position, the U.K. Companies Act 2006 provides that (1) a court may allow a shareholder to bring a derivative claim (that is, an action in respect of and on behalf of the company) in respect of a cause of action arising from a director’s negligence, default, breach of duty or breach of trust and (2) a shareholder may bring a claim for a court order on the ground that the company’s affairs have been or are being conducted in a manner that is unfairly prejudicial   

Under Delaware law, a stockholder may initiate a derivative action to enforce a right of a corporation if the corporation fails to enforce the right itself. The complaint must:

 

   state that the plaintiff was a stockholder at the time of the transaction of which the plaintiff complains or that the plaintiffs shares thereafter devolved on the plaintiff by operation of law; and

 

   allege with particularity the efforts made by the plaintiff to obtain the action the plaintiff desires from the directors and the reasons for the plaintiff’s failure to obtain the action; or

 

 

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to the interests of its shareholders generally or of some of its shareholders, or that an actual or proposed act or omission of the company is or would be so prejudicial.

 

The U.K. Limitation Act 1980 imposes a limitation period, with certain exceptions, in respect of civil claims. The period is six years in respect of actions in contract and tort, and 12 years for “actions on a specialty,” such as a breach of any obligation contained in a deed. The limitation period begins to run from the date on which the action accrued. In the case of contract, this is the date on which the breach of contract occurred, and in tort this is the date on which the damage is suffered.

  

   state the reasons for not making the effort.

 

Additionally, the plaintiff must remain a stockholder through the duration of the derivative suit. The action will not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the Delaware Court of Chancery.

 

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DESCRIPTION OF AMERICAN DEPOSITARY SHARES

American Depositary Shares

Citibank, N.A. (“Citibank”) has agreed to act as the depositary for the ADSs. Citibank’s depositary offices are located at 388 Greenwich Street, New York, New York 10013. ADSs represent ownership interests in securities that are on deposit with the depositary. ADSs may be represented by certificates that are commonly known as American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”). The depositary typically appoints a custodian to safekeep the securities on deposit. In this case, the custodian is Citibank, N.A., London Branch, located at 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB, United Kingdom.

We have appointed Citibank as depositary pursuant to a deposit agreement. A copy of the form of the deposit agreement is on file with the SEC under cover of a registration statement on Form F-6. A copy of the deposit agreement is available from the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). Please refer to registration number 333-223890 when retrieving such copy. “Holder” means the person or persons in whose name an ADS is registered on the register maintained by the depository for such purpose.

We are providing you with a summary description of the material terms of the ADSs and of your material rights as an owner of ADSs. Please remember that summaries by their nature lack the precision of the information summarized and that the rights and obligations of an owner of ADSs will be determined by reference to the terms of the deposit agreement and not by this summary. We urge you to review the deposit agreement in its entirety. The portions of this summary description that are italicized describe matters that may be relevant to the ownership of ADSs but that may not be contained in the deposit agreement.

Each ADS represents the right to receive, and to exercise the beneficial ownership interests in, five ordinary shares that are on deposit with the depositary and/or custodian. An ADS also represents the right to receive, and to exercise the beneficial interests in, any other property received by the depositary or the custodian on behalf of the owner of the ADS but that has not been distributed to the owners of ADSs because of legal restrictions or practical considerations. We and the depositary may agree to change the ADS-to-Share ratio by amending the deposit agreement. This amendment may give rise to, or change, the depositary fees payable by ADS owners. The custodian, the depositary and their respective nominees will hold all deposited property for the benefit of the holders and beneficial owners of ADSs. The deposited property does not constitute the proprietary assets of the depositary, the custodian or their nominees. Beneficial ownership in the deposited property will under the terms of the deposit agreement be vested in the beneficial owners of the ADSs. The depositary, the custodian and their respective nominees will be the record holders of the deposited property represented by the ADSs for the benefit of the holders and beneficial owners of the corresponding ADSs. A beneficial owner of ADSs may or may not be the holder of ADSs. Beneficial owners of ADSs will be able to receive, and to exercise beneficial ownership interests in, the deposited property only through the registered holders of the ADSs, the registered holders of the ADSs (on behalf of the applicable ADS owners) only through the depositary, and the depositary (on behalf of the owners of the corresponding ADSs) directly, or indirectly, through the custodian or their respective nominees, in each case upon the terms of the deposit agreement.

If you become an owner of ADSs, you will become a party to the deposit agreement and therefore will be bound to its terms and to the terms of any ADR that represents your ADSs. The deposit agreement and the ADR specify our rights and obligations as well as your rights and obligations as owner of ADSs and those of the depositary. As an ADS holder you appoint the depositary to act on your behalf in certain circumstances. The deposit agreement and the ADRs are governed by New York law. However, our obligations to the holders of ordinary shares will continue to be governed by the laws of England and Wales, which may be different from the laws in the United States.

 

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In addition, applicable laws and regulations may require you to satisfy reporting requirements and obtain regulatory approvals in certain circumstances. You are solely responsible for complying with such reporting requirements and obtaining such approvals. None of the depositary, the custodian, us or any of their or our respective agents or affiliates shall be required to take any actions whatsoever on your behalf to satisfy such reporting requirements or obtain such regulatory approvals under applicable laws and regulations.

The manner in which you own the ADSs (e.g., in a brokerage account vs. as registered holder, or as holder of certificated vs. uncertificated ADSs) may affect your rights and obligations, and the manner in which, and extent to which, the depositary’s services are made available to you. As an owner of ADSs, we will not treat you as one of our shareholders and you will not have direct shareholder rights. The depositary will hold on your behalf the shareholder rights attached to the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs. As an owner of ADSs you will be able to exercise the shareholders rights for the ordinary shares represented by your ADSs through the depositary only to the extent contemplated in the deposit agreement. To exercise any shareholder rights not contemplated in the deposit agreement you will, as an ADS owner, need to arrange for the cancellation of your ADSs and become a direct shareholder.

As an owner of ADSs, you may hold your ADSs either by means of an ADR registered in your name, through a brokerage or safekeeping account, or through an account established by the depositary in your name reflecting the registration of uncertificated ADSs directly on the books of the depositary (commonly referred to as the direct registration system or DRS). The direct registration system reflects the uncertificated (book-entry) registration of ownership of ADSs by the depositary. Under the direct registration system, ownership of ADSs is evidenced by periodic statements issued by the depositary to the holders of the ADSs. The direct registration system includes automated transfers between the depositary and DTC, the central book-entry clearing and settlement system for equity securities in the United States. If you decide to hold your ADSs through your brokerage or safekeeping account, you must rely on the procedures of your broker or bank to assert your rights as ADS owner. Banks and brokers typically hold securities such as the ADSs through clearing and settlement systems such as DTC. The procedures of such clearing and settlement systems may limit your ability to exercise your rights as an owner of ADSs. Please consult with your broker or bank if you have any questions concerning these limitations and procedures. All ADSs held through DTC will be registered in the name of a nominee of DTC.

The registration of the ordinary shares in the name of the depositary or the custodian shall, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, vest in the depositary or the custodian the record ownership in the applicable ordinary shares with the beneficial ownership rights and interests in such ordinary shares being at all times vested with the beneficial owners of the ADSs representing the ordinary shares. The depositary or the custodian shall at all times be entitled to exercise the beneficial ownership rights in all deposited property, in each case only on behalf of the holders and beneficial owners of the ADSs representing the deposited property.

Dividends and Other Distributions

Holders generally have the right to receive the distributions we make on the securities deposited with the custodian. A Holder’s receipt of these distributions may be limited, however, by practical considerations and legal limitations. Holders of ADSs will receive such distributions under the terms of the deposit agreement in proportion to the number of ADSs held as of the specified record date, after deduction the applicable fees, taxes, and expenses.

Distributions of Cash

Whenever we make a cash distribution for the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will deposit the funds with the custodian. Upon receipt of confirmation of the deposit of the requisite funds,

 

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the depositary will arrange for the funds received in a currency other than U.S. dollars to be converted into U.S. dollars and for the distribution of the U.S. dollars to the holders, subject to the laws and regulations of England and Wales.

The conversion into U.S. dollars will take place only if practicable and if the U.S. dollars are transferable to the United States. The depositary will apply the same method for distributing the proceeds of the sale of any property (such as undistributed rights) held by the custodian in respect of securities on deposit.

The distribution of cash will be made net of the fees, expenses, taxes, and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. The depositary will hold any cash amounts it is unable to distribute in a non-interest bearing account for the benefit of the applicable holders and beneficial owners of ADSs until the distribution can be effected or the funds that the depositary holds must be escheated as unclaimed property in accordance with the laws of the relevant states of the United States.

Distributions of Shares

Whenever we make a free distribution of ordinary shares for the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will deposit the applicable number of ordinary shares with the custodian. Upon receipt of confirmation of such deposit, the depositary will either distribute to holders new ADSs representing the ordinary shares deposited or modify the ADS-to-ordinary shares ratio, in which case each ADS a Holder holds will represent rights and interests in the additional ordinary shares so deposited. Only whole new ADSs will be distributed. Fractional entitlements will be sold and the proceeds of such sale will be distributed as in the case of a cash distribution.

The distribution of new ADSs or the modification of the ADS-to-ordinary shares ratio upon a distribution of ordinary shares will be made net of the fees, expenses, taxes, and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. In order to pay such taxes or governmental charges, the depositary may sell all or a portion of the new ordinary shares so distributed.

No such distribution of new ADSs will be made if it would violate a law (e.g., the U.S. securities laws) or if it is not operationally practicable. If the depositary does not distribute new ADSs as described above, it may sell the ordinary shares received upon the terms described in the deposit agreement and will distribute the proceeds of the sale as in the case of a distribution of cash.

Distributions of Rights

Whenever we intend to distribute rights to subscribe for additional ordinary shares, we will give prior notice to the depositary and we will assist the depositary in determining whether it is lawful and reasonably practicable to distribute rights to purchase additional ADSs to holders.

The depositary will establish procedures to distribute rights to purchase additional ADSs to holders and to enable such holders to exercise such rights if it is lawful and reasonably practicable to make the rights available to holders of ADSs, and if we provide all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement (such as opinions to address the lawfulness of the transaction). Holders may have to pay fees, expenses, taxes and other governmental charges to subscribe for the new ADSs upon the exercise of a Holder’s rights. The depositary is not obligated to establish procedures to facilitate the distribution and exercise by holders of rights to subscribe for new ordinary shares other than in the form of ADSs.

 

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The depositary will not distribute the rights to a Holder if:

 

   

we do not timely request that the rights be distributed to such Holder or we request that the rights not be distributed to such Holder; or

 

   

we fail to deliver satisfactory documents to the depositary; or

 

   

it is not reasonably practicable to distribute the rights.

The depositary will sell the rights that are not exercised or not distributed if such sale is lawful and reasonably practicable. The proceeds of such sale will be distributed to holders as in the case of a cash distribution. If the depositary is unable to sell the rights, it will allow the rights to lapse.

Elective Distributions

Whenever we intend to distribute a dividend payable at the election of shareholders either in cash or in additional shares, we will give prior notice thereof to the depositary and will indicate whether we wish the elective distribution to be made available to a Holder. In such case, we will assist the depositary in determining whether such distribution is lawful and reasonably practicable.

The depositary will make the election available to a Holder only if it is reasonably practicable and if we have provided all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement. In such case, the depositary will establish procedures to enable such Holder to elect to receive either cash or additional ADSs, in each case as described in the deposit agreement.

If the election is not made available to a Holder, such Holder will receive either cash or additional ADSs, depending on what a shareholder in England and Wales would receive upon failing to make an election, as more fully described in the deposit agreement.

Other Distributions

Whenever we intend to distribute property other than cash, ordinary shares, or rights to purchase additional ordinary shares, we will notify the depositary in advance and will indicate whether we wish such distribution to be made to a Holder. If so, we will assist the depositary in determining whether such distribution to holders is lawful and reasonably practicable.

If it is reasonably practicable to distribute such property to a Holder and if we provide to the depositary all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement, the depositary will distribute the property to the holders in a manner it deems practicable.

The distribution will be made net of fees, expenses, taxes, and governmental charges payable by holders under the terms of the deposit agreement. In order to pay such taxes and governmental charges, the depositary may sell all or a portion of the property received.

The depositary will not distribute the property to a Holder and will sell the property if:

 

   

we do not request that the property be distributed to such Holder or if we request that the property not be distributed to such Holder; or

 

   

we do not deliver satisfactory documents to the depositary; or

 

   

the depositary determines that all or a portion of the distribution to such Holder is not reasonably practicable.

 

   

The proceeds of such a sale will be distributed to holders as in the case of a cash distribution.

 

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Redemption

Whenever we decide to redeem any of the securities on deposit with the custodian, we will notify the depositary in advance. If it is practicable and if we provide all of the documentation contemplated in the deposit agreement, the depositary will provide notice of the redemption to the holders.

The custodian will be instructed to surrender the shares being redeemed against payment of the applicable redemption price. The depositary will convert into U.S. dollars upon the terms of the deposit agreement the redemption funds received in a currency other than U.S. dollars and will establish procedures to enable holders to receive the net proceeds from the redemption upon surrender of their ADSs to the depositary. A Holder may have to pay fees, expenses, taxes, and other governmental charges upon the redemption of such Holder’s ADSs. If less than all ADSs are being redeemed, the ADSs to be retired will be selected by lot or on a pro rata basis, as the depositary may determine.

Changes Affecting Ordinary Shares

The ordinary shares held on deposit for a Holder’s ADSs may change from time to time. For example, there may be a change in nominal (or par) value, split-up, cancellation, consolidation, or any other reclassification of such ordinary shares or a recapitalization, reorganization, merger, consolidation, or sale of assets of ours.

If any such change were to occur, such Holder’s ADSs would, to the extent permitted by law and the deposit agreement, represent the right to receive the property received or exchanged in respect of the ordinary shares held on deposit. The depositary may in such circumstances deliver new ADSs to a Holder, amend the deposit agreement, the ADRs and the applicable registration statement(s) on Form F-6, call for the exchange of such Holder’s existing ADSs for new ADSs and take any other actions that are appropriate to reflect as to the ADSs the change affecting the Shares. If the depositary may not lawfully distribute such property to a Holder, the depositary may sell such property and distribute the net proceeds to such Holder as in the case of a cash distribution.

Issuance of ADSs upon Deposit of Ordinary Shares

The depositary may create ADSs on a Holder’s behalf if such Holder or such Holder’s broker deposit ordinary shares with the custodian. The depositary will deliver these ADSs to the person a Holder indicates only after such Holder pays any applicable issuance fees and any charges and taxes payable for the transfer of the ordinary shares to the custodian. A Holder’s ability to deposit ordinary shares and receive ADSs may be limited by the legal considerations in the United States and England and Wales applicable at the time of deposit.

The issuance of ADSs may be delayed until the depositary or the custodian receives confirmation that all required approvals have been given and that the ordinary shares have been duly transferred to the custodian. The depositary will only issue ADSs in whole numbers.

When a Holder makes a deposit of ordinary shares, such Holder will be responsible for transferring good and valid title to the depositary. As such, a Holder will be deemed to represent and warrant that:

 

   

the ordinary shares are duly authorized, validly allotted and issued, fully paid, not subject to any call for the payment of further capital, and legally obtained;

 

   

all pre-emptive (and similar) rights, if any, with respect to such ordinary shares have been validly waived, disapplied or exercised;

 

   

such Holder is duly authorized to deposit the ordinary shares;

 

   

the ordinary shares presented for deposit are free and clear of any lien, encumbrance, security interest, charge, mortgage, or adverse claim, and are not, and the ADSs issuable upon such deposit will not be, “Restricted Securities” (as defined in the deposit agreement); and

 

   

the ordinary shares presented for deposit have not been stripped of any rights or entitlements.

 

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If any of the representations or warranties is incorrect in any way, we and the depositary may, at such Holder’s cost and expense, take any and all actions necessary to correct the consequences of the misrepresentation.

Transfer, Combination and Split Up of ADRs

ADR holders will be entitled to transfer, combine, or split up such Holder’s ADRs and the ADSs evidenced thereby. For transfers of ADRs, a Holder will have to surrender the ADRs to be transferred to the depositary and also must:

 

   

ensure that the surrendered ADR is properly endorsed or otherwise in proper form for transfer;

 

   

provide such proof of identity and genuineness of signatures as the depositary deems appropriate;

 

   

provide any transfer stamps required by the State of New York or the United States; and

 

   

pay all applicable fees, charges, expenses, taxes, and other government charges payable by ADR holders pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, upon the transfer of ADRs.

To have a Holder’s ADRs either combined or split up, such Holder must surrender the ADRs in question to the depositary with such Holder’s request to have them combined or split up, and such Holder must pay all applicable fees, charges, and expenses payable by ADR holders, pursuant to the terms of the deposit agreement, upon a combination or split up of ADRs.

Withdrawal of Ordinary Shares Upon Cancellation of ADSs

A Holder will be entitled to present such Holder’s ADSs to the depositary for cancellation and then receive the corresponding number of underlying ordinary shares at the custodian’s offices. A Holder’s ability to withdraw the ordinary shares held in respect of the ADSs may be limited by the legal considerations in the United States and England and Wales applicable at the time of withdrawal. In order to withdraw the ordinary shares represented by a Holder’s ADSs, such Holder will be required to pay to the depositary the fees for cancellation of ADSs and any charges and taxes payable upon the transfer of the ordinary shares.

A Holder assumes the risk for delivery of all funds and securities upon withdrawal. Once canceled, the ADSs will not have any rights under the deposit agreement.

If a Holder holds ADSs registered in such Holder’s name, the depositary may ask such Holder to provide proof of identity and genuineness of any signature and such other documents as the depositary may deem appropriate before it will cancel such Holder’s ADSs. The withdrawal of the ordinary shares represented by such Holder’s ADSs may be delayed until the depositary receives satisfactory evidence of compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Please keep in mind that the depositary will only accept ADSs for cancellation that represent a whole number of securities on deposit.

Holders will have the right to withdraw the securities represented by their ADSs at any time except for:

 

   

Temporary delays that may arise because (i) the transfer books for the ordinary shares or ADSs are closed, or (ii) ordinary shares are immobilized on account of a shareholders’ meeting or a payment of dividends.

 

   

Obligations to pay fees, taxes and similar charges.

 

   

Restrictions imposed because of laws or regulations applicable to ADSs or the withdrawal of securities on deposit.

 

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The deposit agreement may not be modified to impair a Holder’s right to withdraw the securities represented by such Holder’s ADSs except to comply with mandatory provisions of law.

Voting Rights

Holders generally have the right under the deposit agreement to instruct the depositary to exercise the voting rights for the ordinary shares represented by your ADSs. The voting rights of Holders of ordinary shares are described in “Description of Share Capital and Articles of Association—Articles of Association” in this prospectus.

At our request, the depositary will distribute to Holders any notice of shareholders’ meeting received from us together with information explaining how to instruct the depositary to exercise the voting rights of the securities represented by ADSs.

If the depositary timely receives voting instructions from a Holder of ADSs, it will endeavor to vote the securities (in person or by proxy) represented by the Holder’s ADSs as follows:

 

   

In the event of voting by show of hands, the depositary will vote (or cause the custodian to vote) all ordinary held on deposit at that time in accordance with the voting instructions received from a majority of Holders of ADSs who provide timely voting instructions.

 

   

In the event of voting by poll, the depositary will vote (or cause the custodian to vote) the ordinary shares held on deposit in accordance with the voting instructions received from the Holders of ADSs. The depositary will give a discretionary proxy to a person designated by us to vote any ordinary shares held on deposit for which voting instructions were not received from the Holders of ADSs, unless we inform the depositary that (a) we do not wish such proxy to be given, (b) substantial opposition exists, or (c) the rights of Holders of ADSs may be adversely affected.

Securities for which no voting instructions have been received will not be voted (except as otherwise contemplated in the Deposit Agreement). Please note that the ability of the depositary to carry out voting instructions may be limited by practical and legal limitations and the terms of the securities on deposit. We cannot assure Holders that they will receive voting materials in time to enable such Holders to return voting instructions to the depositary in a timely manner.

Fees and Charges

ADS Holders will be required to pay the following fees under the terms of the deposit agreement:

 

Service

  

Fees

Issuance of ADSs (e.g., an issuance of ADS upon a deposit of ordinary shares, upon a change in the ADS(s)-to-ordinary share ratio, or for any other reason), excluding ADS issuances as a result of distributions of ordinary shares)    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS issued
Cancellation of ADSs (e.g., a cancellation of ADSs for delivery of deposited property, upon a change in the ADS(s)-to-ordinary share ratio, or for any other reason)    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS cancelled
Distribution of cash dividends or other cash distributions (e.g., upon a sale of rights and other entitlements)    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held

 

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Service

  

Fees

Distribution of ADSs pursuant to (i) stock dividends or other free stock distributions, or (ii) exercise of rights to purchase additional ADSs    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held
Distribution of securities other than ADSs or rights to purchase additional ADSs (e.g., upon a spin-off)    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held
ADS Services    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS held on the applicable record date(s) established by the depositary bank
Registration of ADS transfers (e.g., upon a registration of the transfer of registered ownership of ADSs, upon a transfer of ADSs into DTC and vice versa, or for any other reason)    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS (or fraction thereof) transferred
Conversion of ADSs of one series for ADSs of another series (e.g., upon conversion of Partial Entitlement ADSs for Full Entitlement ADSs, or upon conversion of Restricted ADSs (each as defined in the Deposit Agreement) into freely transferable ADSs, and vice versa).    Up to U.S. 5¢ per ADS (or fraction thereof) converted

ADS Holders will also be responsible to pay certain charges such as:

 

   

taxes (including applicable interest and penalties) and other governmental charges;

 

   

the registration fees as may from time to time be in effect for the registration of ordinary shares on the share register and applicable to transfers of ordinary shares to or from the name of the custodian, the depositary, or any nominees upon the making of deposits and withdrawals, respectively;

 

   

certain cable, telex, and facsimile transmission and delivery expenses;

 

   

the expenses and charges incurred by the depositary in the conversion of foreign currency;

 

   

the fees and expenses incurred by the depositary in connection with compliance with exchange control regulations and other regulatory requirements applicable to ordinary shares, ADSs, and ADRs; and

 

   

the fees, charges, costs and expenses incurred by the depositary, the custodian, or any nominee in connection with the ADR program.

ADS fees and charges payable upon (i) the issuance of ADSs, and (ii) the cancellation of ADSs are charged to the person to whom the ADSs are issued (in the case of ADS issuances) and to the person whose ADSs are cancelled (in the case of ADS cancellations). In the case of ADSs issued by the depositary into DTC, the ADS issuance and cancellation fees and charges may be deducted from distributions made through DTC, and may be charged to the DTC participant(s) receiving the ADSs being issued or the DTC participant(s) holding the ADSs being cancelled, as the case may be, on behalf of the beneficial owner(s) and will be charged by the DTC participant(s) to the account of the applicable beneficial owner(s) in accordance with the procedures and practices of the DTC participants as in effect at the time. ADS fees and charges in respect of distributions and the ADS service fee are charged to the Holders as of the applicable ADS record date. In the case of distributions of cash, the amount of the applicable ADS fees and charges is deducted from the funds being distributed. In the

 

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case of (i) distributions other than cash and (ii) the ADS service fee, Holders as of the ADS record date will be invoiced for the amount of the ADS fees and charges and such ADS fees and charges may be deducted from distributions made to Holders of ADSs. For ADSs held through DTC, the ADS fees and charges for distributions other than cash and the ADS service fee may be deducted from distributions made through DTC, and may be charged to the DTC participants in accordance with the procedures and practices prescribed by DTC and the DTC participants in turn charge the amount of such ADS fees and charges to the beneficial owners for whom they hold ADSs. In the case of (i) registration of ADS transfers, the ADS transfer fee will be payable by the Holders of ADSs whose ADSs are being transferred or by the person to whom the ADSs are transferred, and (ii) conversion of ADSs of one series for ADSs of another series, the ADS conversion fee will be payable by the Holder whose ADSs are converted or by the person to whom the converted ADSs are delivered.

In the event of refusal to pay the depositary fees, the depositary may, under the terms of the deposit agreement, refuse the requested service until payment is received or may set off the amount of the depositary fees from any distribution to be made to the ADS Holder. Certain of the depositary fees and charges (such as the ADS services fee) may become payable shortly after the closing of the ADS offering. Note that the fees and charges Holders may be required to pay may vary over time and may be changed by us and by the depositary. ADS Holders will receive prior notice of such changes. The depositary may reimburse us for certain expenses incurred by us in respect of the ADR program, by making available a portion of the ADS fees charged in respect of the ADR program or otherwise, upon such terms and conditions as we and the depositary agree from time to time.

Amendments

We may agree with the depositary to modify the deposit agreement at any time without Holders’ consent. We undertake to give Holders 30 days’ prior notice of any modifications that would materially prejudice any of their substantial rights under the deposit agreement. We will not consider to be materially prejudicial to holders’ substantial rights any modifications or supplements that are reasonably necessary for the ADSs to be registered under the Securities Act or to be eligible for book-entry settlement, in each case without imposing or increasing the fees and charges Holders are required to pay. In addition, we may not be able to provide holders with prior notice of any modifications or supplements that are required to accommodate compliance with applicable provisions of law.

Holders will be bound by the modifications to the deposit agreement if they continue to hold their ADSs after the modifications to the deposit agreement become effective. The deposit agreement cannot be amended to prevent Holders from withdrawing the ordinary shares represented by holders’ ADSs (except as permitted by law).

Termination

We have the right to direct the depositary to terminate the deposit agreement. Similarly, the depositary may in certain circumstances on its own initiative terminate the deposit agreement. In either case, the depositary must give notice to the Holders at least 30 days before termination. Until termination, Holders’ rights under the deposit agreement will be unaffected.

After termination, the depositary will continue to collect distributions received (but will not distribute any such property until holders request the cancellation of their ADSs) and may sell the securities held on deposit. After the sale, the depositary will hold the proceeds from such sale and any other funds then held for the holders of ADSs in a non-interest bearing account. At that point, the depositary will have no further obligations to holders other than to account for the funds then held for the holders of ADSs still outstanding (after deduction of applicable fees, taxes and expenses).

 

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In connection with the termination of the deposit agreement, the depositary may, independently and without the need for any action by us, make available to holders of ADSs a means to withdraw the ordinary shares and other deposited securities represented by their ADSs and to direct the deposit of such ordinary shares and other deposited securities into an unsponsored American depositary shares program established by the depositary, upon such terms and conditions as the depositary may deem reasonably appropriate, subject however, in each case, to satisfaction of the applicable registration requirements by the unsponsored American depositary shares program under the Securities Act, and to receipt by the depositary of payment of the applicable fees and charges of, and reimbursement of the applicable expenses incurred by, the depositary.

Books of Depositary

The depositary will maintain ADS holder records at its depositary office. Holders may inspect such records at such office during regular business hours but solely for the purpose of communicating with other holders in the interest of business matters relating to the ADSs and the deposit agreement.

The depositary will maintain in New York facilities to record and process the issuance, cancellation, combination, split-up, and transfer of ADSs. These facilities may be closed from time to time, to the extent not prohibited by law.

Limitations on Obligations and Liabilities

The deposit agreement limits our obligations and the depositary’s obligations to Holders. Please note the following:

 

   

We and the depositary are obligated only to take the actions specifically stated in the deposit agreement without negligence or bad faith.

 

   

The depositary disclaims any liability for any failure to carry out voting instructions, for any manner in which a vote is cast or for the effect of any vote, provided it acts in good faith and in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement.

 

   

The depositary disclaims any liability for any failure to determine the lawfulness or practicality of any action, for the content of any document forwarded to holders on our behalf or for the accuracy of any translation of such a document, for the investment risks associated with investing in ordinary shares, for the validity or worth of the ordinary shares, for any tax consequences that result from the ownership of ADSs, for the credit-worthiness of any third party, for allowing any rights to lapse under the terms of the deposit agreement, for the timeliness of any of our notices, or for our failure to give notice.

 

   

We and the depositary will not be obligated to perform any act that is inconsistent with the terms of the deposit agreement.

 

   

We and the depositary disclaim any liability if we or the depositary are prevented or forbidden from or subject to any civil or criminal penalty or restraint on account of, or delayed in, doing or performing any act or thing required by the terms of the deposit agreement, by reason of any provision, present or future of any law or regulation, or by reason of present or future provision of any provision of our Articles, or any provision of or governing the securities on deposit, or by reason of any act of God or war or other circumstances beyond our control.

 

   

We and the depositary disclaim any liability by reason of any exercise of, or failure to exercise, any discretion provided for in the deposit agreement or in our Articles or in any provisions of or governing the securities on deposit.

 

   

We and the depositary further disclaim any liability for any action or inaction in reliance on the advice or information received from legal counsel, accountants, any person presenting Shares for deposit, any holder of ADSs or authorized representatives thereof, or any other person believed by either of us in good faith to be competent to give such advice or information.

 

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We and the depositary also disclaim liability for the inability by a holder to benefit from any distribution, offering, right or other benefit that is made available to holders of ordinary shares but is not, under the terms of the deposit agreement, made available to holders.

 

   

We and the depositary may rely without any liability upon any written notice, request or other document believed to be genuine and to have been signed or presented by the proper parties.

 

   

We and the depositary also disclaim liability for any consequential or punitive damages for any breach of the terms of the deposit agreement.

 

   

No disclaimer of any Securities Act liability is intended by any provision of the deposit agreement.

 

   

Nothing in the deposit agreement gives rise to a partnership or joint venture, or establishes a fiduciary relationship, among Mereo, the depositary and ADS holders.

 

   

Nothing in the deposit agreement precludes Citibank (or its affiliates) from engaging in transactions in which parties adverse to Mereo or the ADS owners have interests, and nothing in the deposit agreement obligates Citibank to disclose those transactions, or any information obtained in the course of those transactions, to Mereo or to the ADS owners, or to account for any payment received as part of those transactions.

Taxes

Holders will be responsible for the taxes and other governmental charges payable on the ADSs and the securities represented by the ADSs. We, the depositary and the custodian may deduct from any distribution the taxes and governmental charges payable by holders and may sell any and all property on deposit to pay the taxes and governmental charges payable by holders. Holders will be liable for any deficiency if the sale proceeds do not cover the taxes that are due.

The depositary may refuse to issue ADSs; to deliver, transfer, split, and combine ADRs; or to release securities on deposit until all taxes and charges are paid by the applicable holder. The depositary and the custodian may take reasonable administrative actions to obtain tax refunds and reduced tax withholding for any distributions on your behalf. However, holders may be required to provide to the depositary and to the custodian proof of taxpayer status and residence and such other information as the depositary and the custodian may require to fulfill legal obligations. Holders are required to indemnify us, the depositary and the custodian for any claims with respect to taxes based on any tax benefit obtained for such holders.

Foreign Currency Conversion

The depositary will arrange for the conversion of all foreign currency received into U.S. dollars if such conversion is practical, and it will distribute the U.S. dollars in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement. Holders may have to pay fees and expenses incurred in converting foreign currency, such as fees and expenses incurred in complying with currency exchange controls and other governmental requirements.

If the conversion of foreign currency is not practical or lawful, or if any required approvals are denied or not obtainable at a reasonable cost or within a reasonable period, the depositary may take the following actions in its discretion:

 

   

Convert the foreign currency to the extent practical and lawful and distribute the U.S. dollars to the holders for whom the conversion and distribution is lawful and practical.

 

   

Distribute the foreign currency to holders for whom the distribution is lawful and practical.

 

   

Hold the foreign currency (without liability for interest) for the applicable holders.

 

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Governing Law/Waiver of Jury Trial

The deposit agreement and the ADRs will be interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of New York. The rights of holders of ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs) is governed by the laws of England and Wales.

AS A PARTY TO THE DEPOSIT AGREEMENT, YOU IRREVOCABLY WAIVE, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, ANY AND ALL RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY LEGAL PROCEEDING AGAINST US AND/OR THE DEPOSITARY ARISING OUT OF, OR RELATING TO, THE DEPOSIT AGREEMENT, ANY ADR AND ANY TRANSACTIONS CONTEMPLATED IN THE DEPOSIT AGREEMENT (WHETHER BASED ON CONTRACT, TORT, COMMON LAW OR OTHERWISE).

 

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PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION

We may sell the ADSs in one or more of the following ways (or in any combination) from time to time:

 

   

through underwriters or dealers;

 

   

directly to a limited number of purchasers or to a single purchaser;

 

   

in “at-the-market” offerings, within the meaning of Rule 415(a)(4) of the Securities Act, to or through a market maker or into an existing trading market on an exchange or otherwise;

 

   

through agents; or

 

   

through any other method permitted by applicable law and described in the applicable prospectus supplement.

The prospectus supplement will state the terms of the offering of the ADSs, including:

 

   

the name or names of any underwriters, dealers or agents;

 

   

the purchase price of such securities and the proceeds to be received by us, if any;

 

   

any underwriting discounts or agency fees and other items constituting underwriters’ or agents’ compensation;

 

   

any initial public offering price;

 

   

any discounts or concessions allowed or reallowed or paid to dealers; and

 

   

any securities exchanges on which the securities may be listed.

Any initial public offering price and any discounts or concessions allowed or reallowed or paid to dealers may be changed from time to time.

If underwriters are used in the sale, the ADSs will be acquired by the underwriters for their own account and may be resold from time to time in one or more transactions, including:

 

   

negotiated transactions;

 

   

at a fixed public offering price or prices, which may be changed;

 

   

at market prices prevailing at the time of sale;

 

   

at prices related to prevailing market prices; or

 

   

at negotiated prices.

Unless otherwise stated in a prospectus supplement, the obligations of the underwriters to purchase any ADSs will be conditioned on customary closing conditions and the underwriters will be obligated to purchase all of such ADSs, if any are purchased.

The ADSs may be sold through agents from time to time. The prospectus supplement will name any agent involved in the offer or sale of the ADSs and any commissions paid to them. Generally, any agent will be acting on a best efforts basis for the period of its appointment.

Sales to or through one or more underwriters or agents in at-the-market offerings will be made pursuant to the terms of a distribution agreement with the underwriters or agents. Such underwriters or agents may act on an agency basis or on a principal basis. During the term of any such agreement, ADSs may be sold on a daily basis on any stock exchange, market or trading facility on which the ADSs are traded, in privately negotiated transactions or otherwise as agreed with the underwriters or agents. The distribution agreement will provide that any ADSs sold will be sold at negotiated prices or at prices related to the then prevailing market prices for our ADSs. Therefore, exact figures regarding

 

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proceeds that will be raised or commissions to be paid cannot be determined at this time and will be described in a prospectus supplement. Pursuant to the terms of the distribution agreement, we may also agree to sell, and the relevant underwriters or agents may agree to solicit offers to purchase, blocks of our ADSs. The terms of each such distribution agreement will be described in a prospectus supplement.

We may authorize underwriters, dealers or agents to solicit offers by certain purchasers to purchase the ADSs at the public offering price set forth in the prospectus supplement pursuant to delayed delivery contracts providing for payment and delivery on a specified date in the future. The contracts will be subject only to those conditions set forth in the prospectus supplement, and the prospectus supplement will set forth any commissions paid for solicitation of these contracts.

Underwriters and agents may be entitled under agreements entered into with us to indemnification by us against certain civil liabilities, including liabilities under the Securities Act, or to contribution with respect to payments which the underwriters or agents may be required to make.

The prospectus supplement may also set forth whether or not underwriters may over-allot or effect transactions that stabilize, maintain or otherwise affect the market price of the securities at levels above those that might otherwise prevail in the open market, including, for example, by entering stabilizing bids, effecting syndicate covering transactions or imposing penalty bids.

Underwriters and agents may be customers of, engage in transactions with, or perform services for us and our affiliates in the ordinary course of business.

Any underwriters to whom ADSs are sold for public offering and sale may make a market in the securities, but such underwriters will not be obligated to do so and may discontinue any market making at any time without notice.

 

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LEGAL MATTERS

Mayer Brown LLP has passed upon certain legal matters regarding the securities offered hereby. The validity of the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs to be offered pursuant to this prospectus will be passed upon for us by Mayer Brown International LLP.

EXPERTS

The consolidated financial statements of Mereo BioPharma Group plc appearing in Mereo BioPharma Group plc’s Annual Report (Form 20-F) for the year ended December 31, 2019, have been audited by Ernst & Young LLP, independent registered public accounting firm, as set forth in their report thereon, included therein, and incorporated herein by reference. Such consolidated financial statements are incorporated herein by reference in reliance upon such report given on the authority of such firm as experts in accounting and auditing.

The registered business address of Ernst & Young LLP is Apex Plaza, Forbury Road, Reading, RG1 1YE, United Kingdom.

 

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SERVICE OF PROCESS AND ENFORCEMENT OF LIABILITIES

We are incorporated and currently existing under the laws of England and Wales. In addition, most of our directors and officers reside outside of the United States and most of our assets are located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for investors to effect service of process in the United States on us or those persons or to enforce in the United States judgments obtained in United States courts against us or those persons based on the civil liability or other provisions of the United States securities laws or other laws.

In addition, uncertainty exists as to whether the courts of England and Wales would:

 

   

recognize or enforce judgments of United States courts obtained against us or our directors or officers predicated upon the civil liabilities provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States; or

 

   

entertain original actions brought in England and Wales against us or our directors or officers predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States.

There is currently no treaty between (i) the United States and (ii) England and Wales providing for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments of United States courts in civil and commercial matters, although the United States and the United Kingdom are both parties to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. A final judgment for the payment of money rendered by any general or state court in the United States based on civil liability, whether or not predicated solely upon the United States securities laws, will not be automatically enforceable in England and Wales. Any final and conclusive monetary judgment for a definite sum obtained against us in United States courts will be treated by the courts of England and Wales as a cause of action in itself and sued upon as a debt at common law so that no retrial of the issues will be necessary, provided that:

 

   

the relevant U.S. court had jurisdiction over the original proceedings according to English conflicts of laws principles at the time when proceedings were initiated—in order to establish that, it would be necessary that we either submitted to the U.S. jurisdiction or were resident/present or carrying on business within the U.S. jurisdiction and were duly served with process;

 

   

the U.S. judgment was final and conclusive in the sense of being final and unalterable in the court that pronounced it and being for a definite sum of money and it is currently enforceable in the United States;

 

   

the judgment given by the courts was not in respect of penalties, taxes, fines, or similar fiscal or revenue obligations (or otherwise based on a U.S. law that an English court considers to relate to a penal, revenue or other public law);

 

   

the judgment was not procured by fraud;

 

   

the judgment was not obtained following a breach of a jurisdictional or arbitration clause, unless with the agreement of the defendant or the defendant’s subsequent submission to the jurisdiction of the court;

 

   

recognition or enforcement of the judgment in England and Wales would not be contrary to public policy or the Human Rights Act 1998;

 

   

the proceedings pursuant to which judgment was obtained were not contrary to natural justice;

 

   

the U.S. judgment was not arrived at by doubling, trebling, or otherwise multiplying a sum assessed as compensation for the loss or damages sustained and not being otherwise in breach of Section 5 of the U.K. Protection of Trading Interests Act 1980, or is a judgment based on measures designated by the Secretary of State under Section 1 of that Act or is otherwise unlawful under English law; and

 

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there is not a prior conflicting decision of an English court or the court of another jurisdiction whose judgment the English court recognizes on the issues in question between the same parties.

Whether these requirements are met in respect of a judgment based upon the civil liability provisions of the United States securities laws, including whether the award of monetary damages under such laws would constitute a penalty, is an issue for the English court making such decision.

Subject to the foregoing, investors may be able to enforce in England and Wales judgments in civil and commercial matters that have been obtained from U.S. federal or state courts. Nevertheless, we cannot assure you that those judgments will be recognized or enforceable in England and Wales.

If an English court gives judgment for the sum payable under a U.S. judgment, the English judgment will be enforceable by methods generally available for this purpose. These methods generally permit the English court discretion to prescribe the manner of enforcement. In addition, it may not be possible to obtain an English judgment or to enforce that judgment if the judgment debtor is or becomes subject to any insolvency or similar proceedings, or if the judgment debtor has any set-off or counterclaim against the judgment creditor. Also note that, in any enforcement proceedings, the judgment debtor may raise any counterclaim that could have been brought if the action had been originally brought in England unless the subject of the counterclaim was in issue and denied in the U.S. proceedings.

 

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WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

We have filed with the SEC a registration statement (including amendments and exhibits to the registration statement) on Form F-3 under the Securities Act. This prospectus, which is part of the registration statement, does not contain all of the information set forth in the registration statement and the exhibits and schedules to the registration statement. For further information, we refer you to the registration statement and the exhibits and schedules filed as part of the registration statement. If a document has been filed as an exhibit to the registration statement, we refer you to the copy of the document that has been filed. Each statement in this prospectus relating to a document filed as an exhibit is qualified in all respects by the filed exhibit.

We are subject to the informational requirements of the Exchange Act. Accordingly, we are required to file reports and other information with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 20-F and reports on Form 6-K. The SEC maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information about issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov.

As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt under the Exchange Act from, among other things, the rules prescribing the furnishing and content of proxy statements, and our board members, executive officers, and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and short-swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the Exchange Act. In addition, we will not be required under the Exchange Act to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act.

We maintain a corporate website at https://www.mereobiopharma.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website does not constitute a part of this prospectus and our website address is included in this prospectus as an inactive textual reference only.

 

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INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The SEC allows us to “incorporate by reference” information into this prospectus, which means that we can disclose important information to you by referring you to other documents which we have filed or will file with the SEC. We are incorporating by reference in this prospectus the documents listed below and all amendments or supplements we may file to such documents, as well as any future filings we may make with the SEC on Form 20-F under the Exchange Act before the time that all of the securities offered by this prospectus have been sold or de-registered:

 

   

Our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on June 15, 2020;

 

   

Our reports on Form 6-K furnished to the SEC on September 29, 2020, October 1, 2020 and October 19, 2020 that we incorporate by reference into this prospectus; and

 

   

The description of our ordinary shares contained in Item 1 of the Registration Statement on Form 8-A, File No. 001-38452, originally filed with the SEC on April 9, 2018 and subsequently amended on April  15, 2019, as updated by Exhibit 2.2 to the 2019 Form 20-F, including the “Description of Ordinary Shares” and the “Description of American Depositary Shares” contained therein and any amendment or report filed for the purpose of further updating such descriptions.

In addition, any reports on Form 6-K submitted to the SEC by us pursuant to the Exchange Act after the date of the initial registration statement and prior to effectiveness of the registration statement that we specifically identify in such forms as being incorporated by reference into the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part and all subsequent annual reports on Form 20-F filed after the effective date of this registration statement and prior to the termination of this offering and any reports on Form 6-K subsequently submitted to the SEC or portions thereof that we specifically identify in such forms as being incorporated by reference into the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part, shall be considered to be incorporated into this prospectus by reference and shall be considered a part of this prospectus from the date of filing or submission of such documents.

As you read the above documents, you may find inconsistencies in information from one document to another. If you find inconsistencies between the documents and this prospectus, you should rely on the statements made in the most recent document. All information appearing in this prospectus is qualified in its entirety by the information and financial statements, including the notes thereto, contained in the documents incorporated by reference herein.

We will provide to each person, including any beneficial owner, to whom this prospectus is delivered, a copy of these filings, at no cost, upon written or oral request to us at the following address:

Mereo BioPharma Group plc

1 Cavendish Place

4th Floor

London, W1G 0QF

United Kingdom

Tel: +44-333-023-7300

Attention: Investor Relations

 

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$50,000,000

 

LOGO

American Depositary Shares representing Ordinary Shares

 

 

 

PROSPECTUS

SUPPLEMENT

 

 

 

SVB Leerink

 

 

October 23, 2020