Pharma giant AstraZeneca sold its stake in Moderna for more than $1 billion last year as the upstart biotech firm’s COVID-19 vaccine thrust it into the spotlight.
AstraZeneca quietly revealed the move in its February annual report, which said the Moderna sale accounted for “a large proportion” of the roughly $1.4 billion it raked in selling part of its equity portfolio last year.
The British drugmaker did not say exactly how much it made dumping its 7.6 percent Moderna stake, but The Times of London reported that the sale generated about $1.2 billion in cash.
AstraZeneca — which developed its own coronavirus vaccine with the University of Oxford — first invested $240 million in Moderna in 2013 and expanded its stake through 2019, the year after the Massachusetts-based firm went public at $23 a share.
The deal was part of a partnership between the two companies to develop drugs with messenger RNA, the genetic material that Moderna put to work in its coronavirus shot, AstraZeneca has said.
The value of AstraZeneca’s investment appeared to explode last year along with Moderna’s stock price, which increased more than fivefold as the company rolled out the second of three COVID-19 shots cleared for use in the US.
Moderna expects to sell more than $18 billon worth of the vaccine this year, putting the firm on pace to turn a profit for the first time since its inception in 2010.
AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine has been approved for use in countries such as the UK and Canada, but has not been cleared in the US like Moderna’s. The Cambridge, UK-based company has pledged to sell the shots at no profit during the pandemic.
Moderna shares fell about 0.3 percent in premarket trading Wednesday to $146.40 as of 9:04 a.m. while AstraZeneca’s recently rose about 0.1 percent to $47.79.
With Post Wires