Astrazeneca wins all-clear to beat rare disease drug company Alexion

Astrazeneca wins all-clear for its £28bn attack on rare disease drug company Alexion

Astrazeneca has been cleared to buy rare disease maker Alexion in a £28 billion blockbuster deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority has decided not to launch an in-depth investigation into the collaboration, which means that the acquisition can still be completed this month.

The CMA said in May it was investigating whether the attack on Alexion could hurt competition in the UK.

Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot (pictured) has pitched the Alexion deal as a way for the Covid vaccine maker to gain a foothold in potentially lucrative rare disease treatments

Astra boss Pascal Soriot has pitched the deal as a way for the Covid vaccine maker to gain a foothold in potentially lucrative treatments for rare diseases, particularly those caused by immune system problems, in which Boston-based Alexion is specialized.

It is the largest acquisition in its history and confirms the company’s transformation from prey to predator since it fended off a £69bn bid from rival Pfizer in 2014, when Soriot claimed Astra’s best days were ahead.

The CMA’s ruling comes days after EU officials gave the green light to the cash-stock merger.

US authorities had already waved it through, and shareholders of both companies voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal in May.

Alexion is known for its blood disease drug Soliris and followed it up with Ultomiris, which was approved two years ago.

The acquisition will lead to annual savings of £375 million and means that Alexion’s medicines can be rolled out in more markets, such as China.

Soriot is also betting that Alexion’s expertise in immunology could open up new revenue streams for the company, which is the largest on the FTSE 100 and has a range of treatments for cancer, heart and lung diseases.

Reactions were mixed when Astra announced the acquisition in December, when it launched its Covid vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford.

Some analysts were baffled by the proposed pairing. Others saw it as a smart move that would keep it at the forefront of innovative fields of medicine.

Marc Dunoyer, Astra’s chief financial officer who will lead the new rare diseases arm, said: “We look forward to the closing of the transaction so that we can pursue our shared ambition to bring more innovative medicines to patients.”

The deal will close on July 21 and Astra will issue new shares to Alexion investors, who will also receive cash.

The American company is being delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange on Wall Street.

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