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AstraZeneca (AZN) Gets Clearance in UK for Alexion Acquisition

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AstraZeneca PLC (AZN - Free Report) announced that the UK Competition and Markets Authority has allowed the company to close its impending merger with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. . The deal is expected to close on Jul 21, 2021.

Last week, AstraZeneca received the European Commission's permission for the acquisition of Alexion. Back then, the company stated that regulatory clearance in the United Kingdom remains critical to close the deal.

On receipt of the UK approval, AstraZeneca has cleared the final hurdle for the acquisition of Alexion.

The company has already received competition clearances for the above acquisition in the United States, Canada, Japan and several other countries.

Shares of AstraZeneca have rallied 21.2% so far this year compared with its industry’s growth of 10.5%.

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AstraZeneca entered into an agreement to acquire Alexion for $39 billion in December 2020. The acquisition will enable AstraZeneca to strengthen its position in immunology. It already has a strong presence in the markets of oncology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, and respiratory diseases.

Upon successful completion of the merger, a dedicated business unit will be formed, which will be known as Alexion, AstraZeneca Rare Disease, and will have its headquarters in Boston, MA.

The new AstraZeneca American Depositary Shares will be admitted on the Nasdaq stock market.

We remind investors that Alexion currently markets blockbuster drug Soliris (eculizumab) – a first-in-class anti-complement component 5 (C5) monoclonal antibody – approved for the treatment of patients with paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria, generalized myasthenia gravis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. The franchise was further strengthened when Alexion launched Ultomiris (ravulizumab), a second-generation C5 monoclonal antibody with a more convenient dosing regimen.

Rare diseases represent a high-growth disease area with a high unmet medical need. Hence, the acquisition will help AstraZeneca have a broad coverage in highly specialized care and become a leader in immunology and precision medicines.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

AstraZeneca currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the large-cap pharma sector include Roche Holding AG (RHHBY - Free Report) and Bayer Aktiengesellschaft (BAYRY - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Roche’s earnings estimates have been revised 2.2% upward for 2021 and 1.1% upward for 2022 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 10.1% year to date.

Bayer’s earnings estimates have been revised 1.6% upward for 2021 and 3.6% upward for 2022 over the past 60 days. The stock has inched up 1.2% year to date.

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