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December 12, 2020

AstraZeneca to buy New Haven born Alexion for $39B

Photo | Contributed An aerial view of Alexion's New Haven office.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the homegrown New Haven company that was founded by a Yale doctor and moved its corporate headquarters to Boston a few years ago, has agreed to be acquired by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for $39 billion, the companies announced Saturday morning.

The deal, which still requires regulatory approvals, would give AstraZeneca a stronger foothold in immunology and rare diseases, which Alexion has specialized in since its founding.

Alexion is best known for its  rare blood-disorder drug Soliris.

AstraZeneca is based in London as in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford. As part of the Alexion deal, the company said it would establish Boston as its U.S. headquarters for rare diseases, capitalizing on talent in the greater Boston area.

Alexion was founded by Yale New Haven Hospital physician and Yale University School of Medicine professor Leonard Bell but moved its headquarters to Boston in 2017, a move that drew criticism from state leaders, who previously granted the company economic incentives to expand in the Elm City. However, it's still maintained a large presence in the Elm City, where it employs hundreds of workers and in 2019 announced plans to spend $10 million to grow its research and development presence there. 

"Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot. “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."

PHOTO | Contributed
Ludwig Hantson has been named CEO of Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. in New Haven.

Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson  said: “For nearly 30 years Alexion has worked to develop and deliver transformative medicines to patients around the world with rare and devastating diseases. I am incredibly proud of what our organisation has accomplished and am grateful to our employees for their contributions. This transaction marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Alexion. We bring to AstraZeneca a strong portfolio, innovative rare disease pipeline, a talented global workforce and strong manufacturing capabilities in biologics. We remain committed to continuing to serve the patients who rely on our medicines and firmly believe the combined organisation will be well positioned to accelerate innovation and deliver enhanced value for our shareholders, patients and the rare disease communities.”

Under the deal, Alexion shareholders will receive cash and stock valued at about $175 per share, the companies said.

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