AstraZeneca Divests Entire 7.7% Stake In Moderna For $1B: The Times

British-based drugmaker AstraZeneca plc AZN has sold its 7.7% stake in Moderna Inc. MRNA for more than $1 billion, the Times reported Sunday.

What Happened: AstraZeneca disposed of its stake in Moderna following the U.S. biotechnology company’s coronavirus vaccine breakthrough, according to the Times report. It isn't clear over what period AstraZeneca sold its holding, the report added.

See also: How to Buy AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Stock

The news of the stake sale comes just as Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ single-shot coronavirus vaccine candidate received approval as the third vaccine for emergency use in the U.S.

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine was approved by U.S. regulators in December last year for emergency use against COVID-19. While reporting its fourth-quarter financial results in late February, Moderna said it expects product sales of $18.4 billion from the vaccine this year.

Why It Matters: AstraZeneca’s 7.7% stake made it the second-largest investor in Moderna last year. The company could use the cash from the stake sale to develop its own drugs and complete its $39 billion acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ALXN.

AstraZeneca, which developed its COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with Oxford University, sells the vaccine on a non-commercial basis, unlike Moderna’s vaccine. The company’s vaccine has not yet received approval in the U.S.

As per the Times report, AstraZeneca will continue its partnership with Moderna on other disease treatments and may sell its COVID-19 vaccine on a commercial basis in the future if the virus becomes endemic.

Price Movement: AstraZeneca’s shares closed more than 1% lower at $48.38 on Friday, while Moderna’s shares closed 4.3% higher at $154.81.

Photo by Marco Verch on Flickr

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