AstraZeneca to Acquire Alexion: Greater Scientific Presence In Immunology by Adding Alexion’s Innovative Complement-technology Platforms and Strong Pipeline

December 12, 2020

AstraZeneca announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement for AstraZeneca to acquire Alexion.

Alexion shareholders will receive $60 in cash and 2.1243 AstraZeneca American Depositary Shares (ADSs) (each ADS representing one-half of one (1/2) ordinary share of AstraZeneca, as evidenced by American Depositary Receipts (ADRs)) for each Alexion share. Based on AstraZeneca’s reference average ADR price of $54.14, this implies total consideration to Alexion shareholders of $39bn or $175 per share.

The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the acquisition. Subject to receipt of regulatory clearances and approval by shareholders of both companies, the acquisition is expected to close in Q3 2021, and upon completion, Alexion shareholders will own c.15% of the combined company.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “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.”

Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Alexion, 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 organization 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 organization will be well-positioned to accelerate innovation and deliver enhanced value for our shareholders, patients, and the rare disease communities.”

Strategic rationale

Both companies share the same dedication to science and innovation to deliver life-changing medicines. The capabilities of both organisations will create a company with great strengths across a range of technology platforms, with the ability to bring innovative medicines to millions of people worldwide. The combined company will also have an enhanced global footprint and broad coverage across primary, speciality and highly specialised care.

Scientific leadership – accelerated presence in immunology

AstraZeneca has built a growing scientific presence in oncology, and in cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, and respiratory diseases, with a focus on organ protection. AstraZeneca has developed a broad range of technologies, initially focused on small molecules and biologics and with a growing focus in precision medicine, genomics, oligonucleotides and epigenetics. More recently, AstraZeneca has increased its efforts in immunology research and the development of medicines for immune-mediated diseases.

Alexion has pioneered complement inhibition for a broad spectrum of immune-mediated rare diseases caused by uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a vital part of the immune system. Alexion’s franchise includes Soliris (eculizumab), a first-in-class anti-complement component 5 (C5) monoclonal antibody. The medicine is approved in many countries for the treatment of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH), atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome, generalized myasthenia gravis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. More recently, Alexion launched Ultomiris (ravulizumab), a second-generation C5 monoclonal antibody with a more convenient dosing regimen.

Alexion’s immunology expertise extends to other targets in the complement cascade beyond C5 as well as additional modalities, with its deep pipeline including Factor D small-molecule inhibitors of the alternative pathway of the complement system, an antibody blocking neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn)-mediated recycling, and a bi-specific mini-body targeting C5, among others. The FcRn extends the half-life and hence the availability of pathogenic immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies.

AstraZeneca, with Alexion’s R&D team, will work to build on Alexion’s pipeline of 11 molecules across more than 20 clinical-development programmes across the spectrum of indications, in rare diseases and beyond.

Alexion’s leading expertise in complement biology will accelerate AstraZeneca’s growing presence in immunology. The acquisition adds a new technology platform to AstraZeneca’s science and innovation-driven strategy. The complement cascade is pivotal to the innate immune system. It plays a crucial role in many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases across multiple therapy areas, including haematology, nephrology, neurology, metabolic disorders, cardiology, ophthalmology and acute care. In contrast, AstraZeneca’s capabilities in genomics, precision medicine and oligonucleotides can be leveraged to develop medicines targeting less-frequent diseases. Combining AstraZeneca’s capabilities in precision medicine and Alexion’s expertise in rare-disease development and commercialisation will enable the new company to develop a portfolio of medicines addressing the large unmet needs of patients suffering from rare diseases.

The combined companies will bring together two rapidly converging, patient-centric models of care delivery with combined strengths in immunology, biologics, genomics and oligonucleotides to drive future medicine innovation. AstraZeneca intends to establish Boston, Massachusetts, US as its headquarters for rare diseases, capitalising on talent in the greater Boston area.

Industry-leading revenue growth; enhanced geographical presence and broad coverage across primary, specialised and highly specialised care

AstraZeneca’s acquisition of Alexion, with its strong commercial portfolio and robust pipeline, will support its long-term ambition to develop novel medicines in areas of immunology with high unmet medical needs. Alexion achieved impressive revenue growth over the last few years, with revenues of $5.0bn in 2019 (21% year-on-year growth). Alexion has exhibited skilful commercial execution in building its ‘blockbuster’ C5 franchise. The success of the franchise is demonstrated by the effective transition of over 70% of PNH patients from Soliris to Ultomiris in less than two years of launch in its key markets, including the US, Japan and Germany, as well as the strong pipeline of additional indications for Ultomiris.

Rare diseases is a high-growth therapy area with rapid innovation and significant unmet medical need. Over 7,000 rare diseases are known today, and only c.5% have US Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments.1 The global rare disease market is forecasted to grow by a low double digit percentage in the future.2

AstraZeneca intends to build on its geographical footprint and extensive emerging markets presence to accelerate the worldwide expansion of Alexion’s portfolio.

The two companies have been on converging paths, AstraZeneca expanding its presence from primary to speciality care, whereas Alexion has been progressing from ultra-orphan to orphan and speciality conditions.

The acquisition strengthens AstraZeneca’s industry-leading growth, underpinned by its broad portfolio of medicines, which will enable the new company to bring innovative medicines to a broad range of healthcare practitioners in primary, speciality and highly specialised care.

The combined company is expected to deliver double-digit average annual revenue growth through 2025.

Financial benefits

Enhanced revenue growth, operating margin and cash-flow generation

The acquisition is expected to improve the combined Group’s profitability, with the core operating margin significantly enhanced in the short term, and with continued expansion thereafter. This uplift is supported by increased scale and expected recurring run-rate pre-tax synergies of c.$500m per year from the combined Group (by end of the third year following completion of the acquisition). AstraZeneca expects to generate significant value from the acquisition by extending Alexion’s commercial reach through leveraging AstraZeneca’s global presence and accelerating the development of Alexion’s pipeline.

The acquisition also strengthens AstraZeneca’s cash-flow generation, providing additional flexibility to reinvest in R&D and rapid debt reduction, with an ambition to increase the dividend.

Immediately earnings-accretive and value-enhancing acquisition, in line with stated capital-allocation priorities

The acquisition is expected to deliver robust and sustainable accretion to AstraZeneca’s core earnings per share (EPS) from the outset, with double-digit percentage accretion anticipated in the first three years following the completion of the acquisition.

The acquisition of Alexion is consistent with AstraZeneca’s capital-allocation priorities. The combined company is expected to maintain a strong, investment-grade credit rating, and the acquisition supports AstraZeneca’s progressive dividend policy. The combination represents a significant step in AstraZeneca’s strategic and financial-growth plans.

Key Terms:

The acquisition will be undertaken through a US statutory merger in which Alexion shareholders will receive $60 in cash and 2.1243 new AstraZeneca ADSs listed on the Nasdaq exchange for each of their Alexion shares.

The cash and ADS consideration represents an c.45% premium to Alexion shareholders based on the closing stock price of Alexion on 11 December 2020 and a c.43% premium, based on the 30-day volume-weighted average closing stock price of $122.04 before this announcement. If they elect, Alexion shareholders may receive their allocation of AstraZeneca ADSs in the form of a corresponding number of ordinary shares of AstraZeneca in addition to the cash consideration.

Based on AstraZeneca’s reference average ADR price of $54.14, this implies total consideration to Alexion shareholders of $39bn or $175 per share.


To support the financing of the offer consideration, AstraZeneca has entered into a new committed $17.5bn bridge-financing facility, provided by Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Securities plc and Goldman Sachs. The bridge-financing facility is available for an initial term of 12 months from the earlier of the date of completion of the acquisition and 12 December 2021 with up to two six-month extensions available at the discretion of AstraZeneca.

The initial bridge financing facility is intended to cover the financing of the cash portion of the acquisition consideration and associated acquisition costs and to refinance the existing term loan and revolving credit facilities of Alexion. In due course, AstraZeneca intends to refinance the initial bridge-financing facility through a combination of new medium-term bank loan facilities, debt-capital market issuances and business cash flows.

The acquisition is expected to significantly enhance cash generation, which will support rapid debt reduction and overall deleveraging. AstraZeneca remains committed to maintaining a strong investment-grade credit rating. The dividend policy remains unchanged with a commitment to a progressive dividend policy; dividend cover is expected to be materially enhanced as a result of the acquisition.

Further information on synergies

The acquisition is expected to realise recurring run-rate pre-tax synergies of c.$500m per year from the combined Group, generated from commercial and manufacturing efficiencies as well as savings in central costs, with full run-rate expected to be achieved by end of the third year following completion of the acquisition.

To realise the total synergies, AstraZeneca expects to incur one-time cash costs of c.$650m, during the first three years following completion.

Management and employees

Members of Alexion’s current senior management team will lead the future rare-disease activities. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, AstraZeneca has agreed that for 12 months following closing, it will provide the Alexion employees with the same level of salary as such employees had before closing, incentive compensation opportunities that are in the aggregate no less favourable than those provided before closing and substantially comparable benefits to those provided before closing.


The companies will mutually agree on two individuals from the Alexion board of directors who will join the AstraZeneca board as directors upon closing of the acquisition.

Closing conditions

Closing of the acquisition is subject to approval by AstraZeneca and Alexion shareholders, certain regulatory approvals, approval of the new AstraZeneca shares for listing with the Financial Conduct Authority and to trading on the London Stock Exchange, and other customary closing conditions.

The acquisition is a Class 1 transaction for AstraZeneca and as such, will require the approval of its shareholders to comply with the UK Listing Rules. A shareholder circular, together with notice of the relevant shareholder meeting, will be distributed to shareholders in the first half of 2021. The Alexion proxy statement is also expected to be published in the first half of 2021.

Subject to the satisfaction of the closing conditions to the proposed acquisition, the companies expect the acquisition to close in Q3 2021.


The acquisition terms provide that Alexion will be liable to pay a break fee of up to $1.2bn to AstraZeneca in certain specified circumstances (including a change of Alexion’s board recommendation or completion of an alternative acquisition). AstraZeneca will also be required to pay Alexion a break fee of $1.4bn in certain specified circumstances, including a change of AstraZeneca’s board recommendation.


The boards of directors of both Alexion and AstraZeneca have unanimously approved the proposed acquisition and resolved to recommend that their respective shareholders vote in favour of it.

Advisors to AstraZeneca

Evercore Partners International LLP (“Evercore”), and Centerview Partners UK LLP (“Centerview Partners”) are acting as lead financial advisers. Ondra LLP (“Ondra”) are providing advice as part of their ongoing financial advisory services. Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc (“Morgan Stanley”) and Morgan Stanley Bank International Limited and J.P. Morgan are acting as financial advisors and lead debt financing underwriters. Goldman Sachs Bank USA is acting as lead debt financing underwriter. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs International are joint corporate brokers. Evercore is acting as sponsor in relation to the transaction described in this announcement. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is acting as legal counsel.

Advisors to Alexion

Bank of America Securities is serving as financial advisor to Alexion, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is serving as legal counsel.

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