Warner Bros. Acquires Turbine, Athenahealth Taps IBM, Alkermes Reveals Diabetes Drug Royalty, & More Boston-Area Deals News

Xconomy Boston — 

News of financings, partnerships, royalties, and acquisitions among New England’s video game, transportation, biotech, and energy companies have kept us buzzing in the last week.

Westwood, MA-based online games maker Turbine was purchased by the Home Entertainment Group of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a unit of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). Turbine produces the massively multiplayer online game franchise Lord of the Rings Online, based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Time Warner didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, but a source in a Boston Globe story pegged the transaction at $160 million, which would represent a modest return for Turbine investors, who have put slightly more than $100 million into the 16-year-old company.

Zipcar, the Cambridge, MA-based car-sharing service, announced it had acquired Streetcar, a U.K.-based company with a similar business model. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Zipcar said it brought the companies’ combined memberships to more than 400,000 and gives it the opportunity to further expand in Europe.

Qualtré, a Marlborough, MA, maker of motion sensors for consumer electronics, announced it closed an $8 million Series B round of funding, which included contributions from Matrix Partners and Pilot House Ventures. The money brings the company’s total funding pot to $13 million, and will go to operations, sales, and development of its products, which have applications in cellular handsets, navigation devices, and gaming controllers.

—France-based bioMérieux shelled out $5 million for an equity stake in Cambridge-based genomics analysis company Knome, as part of a partnership deal in which it will use Knome’s technology to develop diagnostics. BioMérieux appointed its CEO Stéphane Bancel as a director on the Knome board as part of the deal.

—I rounded up the top 10 largest venture deals inked in the first three months of 2010, with data from Dow Jones VentureSource, CB Insights, and the MoneyTree Report. Healthcare companies took seven of the 10 top slots, with the biggest transaction going to Andover, MA-based TransMedics at $36 million.

—Pluromed, a Woburn, MA-based maker of medical devices designed to stop bleeding during surgery, raised $1.1 million of a planned $3.9 million equity offering. Last year the company received a $500,000 loan as part of a Massachusetts initiative to further the life sciences industry in the state.

—Lebanon, NH-based Mascoma, a company developing methods for converting wood fiber and other non-edible plant material into ethanol, has raised $3.4 million of a planned $10 million round of convertible debt, an SEC filing showed. The company received a $15 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in June 2008 to build an ethanol plant in Kinross, in Chippewa County, and the state later pledged another $8.5 million toward the site. The new funding, which came from 10 investors, is likely to better position Mascoma to move forward with this project.

—Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), a Watertown, MA, provider of systems for electronic health records and billing for physicians, has hired IBM (NYSE: IBM) for assistance with tasks such as data entry and physician billing. The deal with IBM’s Managed Process Business Services wing will enable Athenahealth to better focus on the administrative and reimbursement processing aspects of its software, the company said in a statement.

—For the first time, Waltham, MA-based Alkermes publicly revealed how much it will make in royalties on exenatide once-weekly (Bydureon), a diabetes drug from Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals that harnesses Alkermes’ chemistry technology for making the drug last longer in the blood. The company will take an 8 percent royalty on sales of the first 40 million units of the drug per year. If Amylin and Lilly price Bydureon comparably to the twice-daily injectable version of exenatide, that rate would apply to the first $2 billion in sales, bringing in about $160 million for Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) for that piece. The royalty rate shrinks to 5.5 percent for sales beyond those first 40 million units.

Novartis exercised its option to buy 55,223 more shares of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals‘ (NASDAQ: ALNY) stock at $17.99 per share. The deal, worth nearly $1 million, allows pharmaceutical giant Novartis to maintain its 13.4 percent ownership stake in the Cambridge-based company, which is developing drugs using RNA interference technology.

—Wilmington, MA-based Charles River Laboratories International (NYSE: CRL) announced its plan to buy WuXi PharmaTech, a Chinese research and development services firm, for $1.6 billion in cash and common stock. The deal, priced at $21.25 a share, represents a 28 percent premium over WuXi’s (NYSE: WX) closing price on Friday. The acquisition is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close in fourth quarter of 2010.

—Joule Unlimited, a Cambridge-based company developing technology that turns carbon dioxide into ethanol, announced it wrapped up $30 million in a second round of funding that included Flagship Ventures and other unnamed investors. The company launched last summer, originally under the name Joule Biotechnologies.