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AstraZeneca completes $39bn acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals

AstraZeneca has completed its $39billion acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

The deal gives the Cambridge-headquartered biopharmaceutical company a much greater scientific presence in the fields of rare diseases and immunology.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca
Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca

It will prompt the creation of a rare diseases group called ‘Alexion, AstraZeneca Rare Disease’, headquartered in Boston, in the United States.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive officer, said: “Today we welcome our new colleagues from Alexion to AstraZeneca and begin a new chapter that will augment our growth for years to come.

“Our sustained R&D investment in oncology, cardiovascular and renal, as well as respiratory and immunology, has powered AstraZeneca’s transformation and now we add rare diseases, where fewer approved treatment options exist.”

The deal was cleared by the UK Competition and Markets Authority on July 14, following earlier approvals by the European Commission, in the US, Japan and elsewhere.

Marc Dunoyer, the chief financial officer of AstraZeneca, who will take up the role of chief executive officer of Alexion, said: “I am delighted to be working alongside my new colleagues at Alexion where we will continue to discover, develop and deliver medicines that change the lives of people suffering from rare diseases.

“We look forward to also applying Alexion’s complement-biology platform across areas of AstraZeneca’s broader early stage pipeline and, significantly, to the extraordinary opportunity to extend existing and future rare disease medicines to patients in many countries where AstraZeneca already has a strong presence.”

The deal, completed today (July 21), enables AstraZeneca to access Alexion’s strong pipeline and scientific platform. It extends its expertise in immunology and rare diseases. There are more than 7,000 rare diseases known today, but only five per cent have treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration meaning there is significant unmet-need.

Marc Dunoyer, CFO of AstraZeneca, becomes CEO of Alexion. Picture: AstraZeneca
Marc Dunoyer, CFO of AstraZeneca, becomes CEO of Alexion. Picture: AstraZeneca

The huge expense of developing new therapies for a relatively small pool of patients has held back progress in treating many rare diseases, but technological advances, such as next-generation sequencing and the ability to use AI to speed up drug development, has opened the doors.

Demand in medicines for rare diseases is now forecasted to grow by a low double-digit percentage.

The total consideration paid to the Alexion shareholders was approximately $13.3bn in cash and 236,321,411 new AstraZeneca shares. Approximately 94 per cent of these will be represented by new AstraZeneca American Depositary Shares (ADSs).

Trading on the London Stock Exchange for listed securities begins at 8am on July 22, while

trading of the new AstraZeneca ADSs on the Nasdaq Stock Market will start at 9.30am EDT on July 22.

The Alexion shares will be delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market and Alexion will terminate its registration under the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

As a result of completion, the issued share capital of AstraZeneca PLC with voting rights is 1,549,116,129 ordinary shares of $0.25. No shares are held in Treasury.

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