for $39 billion in cash and stock, or $175 a share, in one of the year’s largest drug mergers.
Alexion (ticker: ALXN) shareholders will receive $60 in cash plus 2.1243 AstraZeneca American depositary receipts for each share they own, according to a joint statement released Saturday. The boards of both AstraZeneca and Alexion have approved the deal, which is slated to close in the third quarter of 2021. Alexion will own 15% of the combined company.
AstraZeneca (AZN), based in Cambridge, U.K., is in the late stages of developing a Covid-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford that is being reviewed by U.K. and European medicine regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported. AstraZeneca said Alexion’s expertise in complement biology will accelerate its growing presence in immunology. AstraZeneca also plans to make Boston– where Alexion is based–its headquarters for rare diseases.
“Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases. This acquisition allows us to enhance our presence in immunology. We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues at Alexion so that we can together build on our combined expertise in immunology and precision medicines to drive innovation that delivers life-changing medicines for more patients,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot in a statement.
The deal comes months after
(ABBV) closed its $63 billion purchase of Allergen, the maker of Botox, in May. AstraZeneca has been active in 2020, agreeing in September to buy Dogma Therapeutics for its preclinical oral PCSK9 inhibitor, which lowers cholesterol.
Alexion is known for its development of rare disease drugs Ultomiris and Soliris, which together accounted for $4.3 billion of Alexion’s $5 billion in product sales in 2019.
Alexion has been on an acquisition spree since 2018, snapping up four smaller drugmakers for a total of $4 billion. Its latest deal, a $1.4 purchase of Portola Pharmaceuticals, closed in July. The acquisition was unpopular and caused Alexion shares to drop 5.4% in May. It also spurred activist investor Elliott Management to call for Alexion to sell itself, claiming the company was going in the wrong direction. Alexion shares have rebounded since hitting a low of $82.36 in March, and closed Friday at $120.98, up 1.8%. AstraZeneca shares closed Friday up 0.7%, at $54.27.
“This transaction marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Alexion,” said Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., in a statement. “We bring to AstraZeneca a strong portfolio, innovative rare disease pipeline, a talented global workforce and strong manufacturing capabilities in biologics.”
Write to Luisa Beltran at [email protected]