M&A in the pharma sector marches on unabated - AstraZeneca buying a 55 percent stake in biotech Acerta Pharma for $4.0 billion to give it new cancer drugs. Hayley Platt reports.
AstraZeneca has been Christmas shopping. It's buying a 55 percent stake in Acerta - a privately held biotech firm based in the Netherlands and the U.S.. The deal is worth 4 billion dollars. And will give Britain's second biggest drugmaker access to a new drug for fighting blood cancers. Astra believes Acalabrutinib - now in final testing - could sell for more than 5 billion dollars a year. It's the latest in a record set of mergers. Earlier this week Sanofi announced it was in talks over a $20 billion swap of the French pharmaceuticals company's animal health business for the family-owned German group's consumer health operation. Last year, AstraZeneca - itself the subject of a takeover bid by Pfizer - bought ZS Pharma, a U.S. biopharmaceutical company for 2.7 billion dollars. And on Tuesday it announced plans to acquire the respiratory business of Japan's Takeda Pharmaceuticals for 575 million dollars. BGC's Mike Ingram. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS, MARKET ANALYST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "They haven't necessarily been able to generate these products in-house so they've actually had to go externally and to some extent seek to cherry pick what else is out there and what better way of getting access to those products then to buy the company." The tie-up with Acerta wasn't unexpected. Astra had been looking out for a partner to acquire for a while. It will pay an initial $2.5bn. The rest, either when it receives the first regulatory approval for the new drug or by 2018, whichever comes first.