AstraZeneca recently received the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approval for the proposed acquisition of Alexion


The AstraZeneca Corporate HQ in Cambridge, England. (Credit: D Wells/Wikipedia.)

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an anti-competition investigation into AstraZeneca’s proposed acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals.

According to the CMA rules, if the agency finds any practical prospect of threats to competition, the agency may launch a more in-depth, Phase 2 assessment.

The phase 2 assessment is anticipated to continue for 24 weeks or may extend up to 32 weeks in special circumstances.

CMA, in its statement, said: “Whether it is or may be the case that this transaction if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002.

“If so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

In December last year, the UK drugmaker has agreed to acquire US-based Alexion for a total consideration of $39bn to advance its strategic and financial development.

Last month, AstraZeneca received the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approval for the anticipated acquisition of Alexion, after completion of the waiting period.

In addition to the US, AstraZeneca has received competition approvals for the proposed acquisition in Brazil, Canada, Russia and Japan, with approvals pending in the UK, EU and China.

The UK watchdog has launched its merger inquiry by notice to the parties and is inviting public comments to decide by 21 July 2021.

With the acquisition, the UK drugmaker aimed to establish its presence in rare disease and immunology beyond its current focus in oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.