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March 1, 2021, 3:41 p.m. EST

AstraZeneca sold its stake in Moderna for more than $1 billion, as it looks to develop its own pipeline of drugs

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By Lina Saigol

AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.61% has sold its entire 7.7% stake in U.S. biotech company Moderna for more than $1 billion.

The cash from the sale of AstraZeneca’s holding will help shore up the Anglo-Swedish drug company’s finances, as it develops its own pipeline of drugs and aims to complete its $39 billion takeover of Boston-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/206262068/composite ALXN +0.35% . That deal will expand its foothold in the lucrative field of rare-diseases drugs and boost sales of drugs in new markets, particularly China. 

“During 2020, AstraZeneca sold a proportion of its equity portfolio receiving consideration of $1.3 billion, a large proportion of which related to the disposal of its full holding in Moderna,” said AstraZeneca in its 2020 annual report .

Shares in the Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +5.26% , which listed on Nasdaq in 2018, soared more than five times in value in 2020 after the U.S. biotech started development of its two-shot COVID-19 vaccine, which has been authorized for emergency use in the U.S., the European Union and the U.K., among other countries.

Read: Here’s How AstraZeneca Says Covid-19 Could Accelerate Cancer Clinical Trials

Last week, Moderna /zigman2/quotes/221037016/delayed UK:0A45 +5.02% said it was expecting sales of $18.4 billion from its COVID-19 vaccine this year — higher than its U.S. rival Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +1.78% which has forecast revenues of $15 billion from its share of sales from the vaccine it developed with partner BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX +6.68% .

Read: Moderna reports $570 million in revenue for first time driven by sales of COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna /zigman2/quotes/203749873/delayed MX:MRNA +5.21% plans to produce at least 700 million doses of its vaccine in 2021, up from a previous low-end range estimate of 600 million, with a new goal of making 1.4 billion doses in 2022.

The company’s stock, which is up more than 48% so far this year, was up 2.45% in premarket trading in New York on Monday.

The sale of its Moderna stake comes eight years after AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot made a $240 million investment in Moderna to gain access to the startup’s know-how in manipulating RNA, or ribonucleic acid, which helps create proteins inside cells.

Read: AstraZeneca made a bet on Moderna back in 2013. Here’s what it’s worth now

Under the terms of that agreement, AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.61% won the exclusive rights for five years to choose as many as 40 drugs for development. On top of the initial $240 million, Moderna was also entitled to $180 million for achieving certain technical milestones, and to payments as well as royalties on drugs developed by AstraZeneca. At the time, it was one of the largest-ever initial payments in a pharmaceutical industry licensing deal that didn’t involve a drug already being tested in clinical trials.

AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/206087294/delayed UK:0A4J +0.61% will retain the partnership with Moderna on other disease treatments and is currently progressing 19 projects across cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, as well as oncology, with the U.S. biotech.

Read: AstraZeneca profit, revenue up, guides for growth

Shares in AstraZeneca, which have fallen by almost 4.8% so far this year, were flat in London trading on Monday.

Last week, AstraZeneca said that it is still aiming to supply 180 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, to the EU in the second quarter of the year, as the 27-member bloc continues to grapple with supply issues.

The sale of AstraZeneca’s stake in Moderna was first reported by the Times of London .

/zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
7,287.00 p
+44.00 +0.61%
Volume: 2.44M
April 9, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
38.46
Dividend Yield
2.84%
Market Cap
£95.66 billion
Rev. per Employee
£282,763
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/zigman2/quotes/206262068/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 155.01
+0.54 +0.35%
Volume: 1.11M
April 9, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
57.31
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$34.08 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.58M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 140.92
+7.04 +5.26%
Volume: 9.92M
April 9, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$56.39 billion
Rev. per Employee
$617,996
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/221037016/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
$ 140.28
+6.71 +5.02%
Volume: 886.00
April 9, 2021 4:30p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$56.39 billion
Rev. per Employee
$617,996
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 36.60
+0.64 +1.78%
Volume: 31.69M
April 9, 2021 4:02p
P/E Ratio
21.40
Dividend Yield
4.26%
Market Cap
$204.16 billion
Rev. per Employee
$533,860
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 122.14
+7.65 +6.68%
Volume: 4.19M
April 9, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
1,165
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$29.50 billion
Rev. per Employee
$283,276
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203749873/delayed
MX : Mexico
$ 2,835.02
+140.41 +5.21%
Volume: 4,854
April 9, 2021 3:15p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1136.97 billion
Rev. per Employee
$13.29M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
7,287.00 p
+44.00 +0.61%
Volume: 2.44M
April 9, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
38.46
Dividend Yield
2.84%
Market Cap
£95.66 billion
Rev. per Employee
£282,763
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/206087294/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
$ 50.03
+0.30 +0.61%
Volume: 15,263
April 9, 2021 12:00a
P/E Ratio
40.81
Dividend Yield
2.74%
Market Cap
$131.34 billion
Rev. per Employee
$365,423
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