Montreal Gazette

Astrazenec­a to buy Fusion Pharma for up to $2.4 billion


Astrazenec­a PLC agreed to buy Fusion Pharmaceut­icals Inc. for as much as US$2.4 billion as it seeks to transform cancer treatment by replacing traditiona­l methods like chemothera­py with more targeted approaches.

The U.k.-based drug company said it will pay US$21 a share for Fusion, or US$2 billion in cash upfront, plus a further US$400 million dependent on milestones being achieved. The full amount equates to a premium of 126 per cent to Fusion's closing price on Monday.

Fusion, based in Hamilton, Ont., is a clinical-stage biotech company developing radioconju­gates that deliver radioactiv­e isotopes directly to cancer cells in a targeted way, minimizing damage to healthy cells. Astra believes that radioconju­gates are going to help redefine cancer therapy worldwide.

After a shift in focus to develop COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, the Fusion deal marks a return to chief executive Pascal Soriot's core focus on oncology. Smart bets he's made on cancer treatments in the past have been credited for transformi­ng Astrazenec­a's fortunes over the past decade.

The deal is also the latest in a string of bolt-on sized deals for Astra, which earlier this month agreed to buy Amolyt Pharma, a French company focused on developing treatments for rare endocrine diseases, for just over US$1 billion. In December, Astra stuck a Us$1-billion deal for the U.S .vaccine company Icosavax, and also said it would acquire cell therapy firm Gracell Biotechnol­ogies.

Cancer treatments generated about US$17 billion last year for Astra and represent more than a third of its total sales. However, product developmen­t can be very expensive in terms of research and marketing, so “Astra is planning for growth through acquisitio­ns to avoid a potential drag on profits from focusing purely on long-term internal drug developmen­t,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and market at Hargreaves Lansdown.

 ?? AFP VIA GETTY ?? The Fusion deal marks a return to Astrazenec­a CEO Pascal Soriot's focus on oncology.
AFP VIA GETTY The Fusion deal marks a return to Astrazenec­a CEO Pascal Soriot's focus on oncology.

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