Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALXN) could view Sage Therapeutics Inc. (SAGE) and Ra Pharmaceuticals Inc. (RARX) as potential acquisition targets, according to BMO Capital Markets Corp. analyst M. Ian Somaiya in a Tuesday, Sept. 12, note.
New Haven, Conn.-based Alexion on Tuesday announced plans to cut about 20% of its global workforce as part of a restructuring that would result in $250 million in non-GAAP pre-tax savings annually by 2019. The firm said it plans to reinvest about $100 million annually to build its pipeline via business development and additional complement indications.
The company also said it will move its headquarters to Boston by mid-2018. New Haven will be the firm's Center of Excellence for its complementary research and process development teams.
The relocation news "was a bit surprising and should stir discussion about potential business development (BD)," wrote Somaiya. "Our top targets for Alexion are SAGE and RARX."
In the announcement, Alexion said the move to Boston will "provide access to a larger biopharmaceutical talent pool and a variety of life-sciences partners to further support future growth initiatives."
Shares of Alexion closed at $144.07 on Tuesday, up 0.8%. The company has a market capitalization of $32.15 billion.
Alexion reiterated its previously announced strategy which involves growing its rare disease business; focusing research on its complement expertise and development on the core areas of hematology, nephrology, neurology and metabolic disorders; pursuing business development and optimizing infrastructure.
Somaiya wrote that business development "eventually will be needed to rebuild the pipeline and while management indicated opportunities within and outside the complement space will be considered (including expanding into orphan from ultra-rare/rare diseases)," he expects that Alexion will consider Ra Pharmaceuticals due to its diversified complement pipeline and Sage due to its diverse pipeline.
Representatives for Alexion, Ra and Sage said Tuesday they do not comment on speculation.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Ra focuses on developing treatments for complement-mediated diseases. Sage, also based in Cambridge, develops medicines for central nervous system disorders.
In an interview, Somaiya said that if there were to be a deal, he doesn't expect it to happen this year. For one, Alexion will be busy implementing the changes announced Tuesday. Also, he noted that both Ra and Sage are expected to release data in the fourth quarter.
Alexion said Tuesday it expects to record cumulative pre-tax restructuring and related expenses ranging between about $340 million and $440 million. Alexion chief financial officer Paul Clancy said on a conference call that the workforce reduction is expected to take place over the next 12 months.
"By streamlining our operations we will create a leaner organization with greater financial flexibility that is highly focused on delivering for patients, growing our rare disease business, and both leveraging our leadership in complement and pursuing disciplined business development to expand the pipeline," said Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson in the announcement.
-- Giovanni Bruno contributed to this article
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