British pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, which is finalizing a vaccine against Covid-19, said on Saturday it would buy US biotech firm Alexion for $ 39 billion to boost its work in immunology.
“Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, delivering life-changing benefits to rare disease patients,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement, announcing the largest pharmaceutical deal of the year. .
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“We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to Alexion so that together we can leverage our combined expertise in immunology and precision medicine to drive innovation that delivers life-changing medicines for more patients,” he said.
The two boards agreed to the cash-and-stock deal, which values Alexion at $ 175 a share, a 45 percent premium over the Boston-based company’s closing price on Friday.
Since taking over AstraZeneca in 2012, Soriot has propelled the group into lucrative treatments like cancer therapies, and the acquisition of Alexion will give him more weight in areas like treating blood disorders.
Together with researchers from the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca has developed an effective Covid-19 vaccine that the UK government plans to use as the linchpin of its inoculation campaign, after launching another Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for the first time.
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But approval of the AstraZeneca / Oxford drug has been delayed after inquiries about the results of its initial trial.
On Tuesday, UK partners became the first Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to publish data from end-stage clinical trials in a scientific journal, overcoming a key hurdle.
The new acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, and Alexion shareholders will own 15 percent of the combined company.
“This transaction marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Alexion,” said Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson.
“We bring to AstraZeneca a strong portfolio, an innovative rare disease portfolio, a talented global workforce and strong biologics manufacturing capabilities,” he said.