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UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to review AZ/Alexion merger

Proposed acquisition has already received competitions clearance in the US and Canada

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to review AstraZeneca’s (AZ) planned takeover of rare diseases specialist Alexion.

The competitions regulator announced that it would be inviting comments from interested parties to aid in its assessment of the merger – a routine process for ‘major’ deals.

Last December, AZ announced its intention to acquire US-based Alexion for the huge sum of $39bn.

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

While the CMA has announced its intention to scrutinise the deal, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already cleared the proposed acquisition.

Competition clearances have also been completed in Canada, Brazil, Russia and other countries.

The CMA’s initial analysis will form ‘phase 1’ of the review and is likely to be completed by 21 July, although the regulator will post its decisions following this, depending on whether the deal is cleared or if it progresses to an additional ‘phase 2’ review.

"The commencement of the UK CMA's formal review is another important step towards the closing of the proposed acquisition, which we continue to expect will be in the third quarter of 2021," said an AZ representative.

If the deal is cleared, AZ will immediately gain access to assets within Alexion’s commercial portfolio, which are estimated to be worth approximately $6bn.

That includes the company’s complement component 5 (C5) inhibitors Soliris (eculizumab) and Ultomiris (ravulizumab), which are already available in the US and the EU.

In addition to 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 projects 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.

The Anglo-Swedish pharma company 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.

As part of these plans, AZ will make Alexion a dedicated rare disease business unit, that will be headquartered in Boston, US.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

26th May 2021

From: Regulatory

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