AstraZeneca snares MedImmune in $15.6B buyout

In a deal that left analysts applauding MedImmune shareholders, the Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech company announced that it had agreed to sell out to AstraZeneca for $15.6 billion in cash. At $58 a share, AstraZeneca is paying a 21 percent premium to shareholders--53 percent over what MedImmune was trading for when it announced two weeks ago that it was studying its options. Some of the company's investors, including Carl Icahn, had been demanding that MedImmune put itself on the sales block. AstraZeneca gets FluMist and Synagis along with 45 pipeline programs.

AstraZeneca has been struggling recently to come up with new therapies, but has been dealt a series of setbacks. The latest came today (see below), when the drug giant announced that it is abandoning an experimental heart drug. Some analysts questioned whether the deal was the right one for AstraZeneca, though. The pharma company needs some big late-stage products in the pipeline, they note, and won't get much help from MedImmune on that score. AstraZeneca paid more than a billion dollars recently for Cambridge Antibody, but the MedImmune deal is the biggest buyout since the company was formed in 1999 by the merger of Astra and Zeneca. One possible bonus for the big price, say analysts, is the likelihood that it would scare off any potential competition.

- see the release on the deal
- read the MarketWatch report

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