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AstraZeneca to acquire Alexion for $39bn

Deal will bolster AZ's portfolio with rare disease assets

AstraZeneca (AZ) has paid a jaw-dropping $39bn to acquire Alexion in a bid to bolster and diversify its own drug portfolio with rare disease assets.

Alexion shareholders are set to receive $60 in cash for each share and a total consideration of $39bn or $175 per share.

The acquisition is one of the largest deals announced this year and is also AZ’s largest corporate acquisition ever, according to Reuters.

The deal means AZ will immediately gain assets within Alexion’s commercial portfolio, estimated to be worth around $6bn. This includes the company’s complement component 5 (C5) inhibitors Soliris (eculizumab) and Ultomiris (ravulizumab), which are already available in the US and EU.

On top of Alexion’s commercial products, AZ will also gain a portfolio of assets currently in clinical development, consisting of a pipeline of 11 molecules across over 20 clinical-development programmes.

AZ hopes to combine its own precision medicine expertise with Alexion’s specialist rare disease knowledge to leverage its capabilities in a number of therapy areas, including haematology, nephrology, neurology, metabolic disorders, cardiology, ophthalmology and acute care.

"Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases. This acquisition allows us to enhance our presence in immunology,” said Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer, AZ.

“We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues at Alexion so that together we can build on our combined expertise in immunology and precision medicines to drive innovation that delivers life-changing medicines for more patients,” he added.

While the boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the acquisition, it is still subject to regulatory clearances and approval of both Alexion and AZ shareholders.

If all goes to plan, the companies expect the acquisition to close in the third quarter of 2021, with Alexion shareholders set to own 15% of the combined company upon completion.

AZ is also projecting that the acquisition will deliver double-digit average annual revenue growth until 2025, most likely driven by Soliris, which is currently Alexion’s main source of sales.

Rare disease is increasingly becoming an area of focus for big pharma, with the Alexion acquisition marking AZ’s first major foray into this sector.

By EvaluatePharma’s forecasts, the global rare disease market is set to grow by a low double digit percentage until 2026.

“For nearly 30 years Alexion has worked to develop and deliver transformative medicines to patients around the world with rare and devastating diseases. I am incredibly proud of what our organisation has accomplished and am grateful to our employees for their contributions,” said Ludwig Hantson, chief executive officer of Alexion.

“This transaction marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Alexion. We bring to AstraZeneca a strong portfolio, an innovative rare disease pipeline, a talented global workforce and strong manufacturing capabilities in biologics,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

16th December 2020

From: Sales

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