UK drugmaker AstraZeneca has agreed to buy US biotechnology group Alexion in a $39bn deal, marking the biggest deal struck by a pharmaceutical company since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cash-and-stock takeover announced on Saturday shows the Anglo-Swedish company’s determination to strengthen its position in immunology, already a core focus, alongside cancer treatments and those for cardiovascular, respiratory renal and metabolic diseases.
It comes after months of speculation that AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot was hunting for a large target, seeking to take advantage of his company’s soaring share price that has seen the UK drugmaker become one of the largest listed businesses on the FTSE 100.
Under the terms of the transaction, Alexion shareholders will receive $60 in cash and 2.12 shares from AstraZeneca’s US-listed entity for each share they own.
The transaction values Alexion at $175 per share, a 45 per cent premium to its closing price on Friday. Alexion shareholders will own about 15 per cent of the combined company.
Mr Soriot said Alexion had established itself as a leader in “complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases”. He added: “This acquisition allows us to enhance our presence in immunology.”