British pharmaceutical giant behind the most anticipated Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca has decided to acquire U.S. drugmaker Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39 billion.
The move, the largest deal by AstraZeneca is part of its attempt to diversify away from its already expanding cancer dug business and invest in medication for rare-disease and immunology.
The deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021 will compensate Alexion shareholders with $60 in cash and about $115 worth of equity per share provided either in AstraZeneca’s UK-traded ordinary shares or in dollar-denominated American Depositary Shares.
Speaking to media on the deal, AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot described the transaction as a “tremendous opportunity” for the firm “to accelerate our development in immunology, getting into a new segment of disease, a new segment of physicians, and patients” it hasn’t been able to cover so far.
Based out of Boston in the US, Alexion is best known for the development of Soliris, a drug used against a range of rare immune-disorders including paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), which causes anemia and blood clots.
Alexion has seen its revenue from Soliris increase by 3.6 percent in the first nine months to touch $3 billion. AstraZeneca is hoping that Alexion’s new offering Ultomiris, an improved version of Soliris will be a winner for the firm as well as it looks forward to improving the availability of the drug in China and other emerging markets.
AstraZeneca which was once considered among the leading contenders to introduce a viable COVID-19 vaccine has subsequently fallen behind Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have reported greater efficacy for their COVID-19 vaccines in late-stage clinical trials.