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AZ spins off research operation

AstraZeneca, the UK's second largest drug company, has spun part of it's gastrointestinal research unit to a new smaller private equity backed biotech company, Albireo. The move continues the company's realignment of its research, moving away from gastrointestinal and cardiovascular medicine.

AstraZeneca (AZ), the UK's second largest drug company, has spun part of it's gastrointestinal research unit to a new smaller private equity backed biotech company, Albireo. The move continues the company's realignment of its research, moving away from gastrointestinal and cardiovascular medicine.

AZ will still hold small shares in the research, along with three other investors: Nomura Phase4 Ventures, TVM Capital and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

The three new shareholders have invested $27m (£14m) in the new company and a further $40m is expected from another round of financing.

The move follows rumours earlier this week that AZ was considering disposing of this particular research capability.

Veronique Bouchet,head of venture strategy at AZ, commented: "This represents an innovative approach to product development. Without it we would not have taken forward the products that will now be developed by Albireo."

AZ had announced in 2006 that it would be refocusing its research, however there still remains the possibility that other parts of the company's research capability could use the model created for Albireo.

AZ did not comment whether they were considering to throw off any other areas of their research.

15th February 2008

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