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March 26, 2014

AstraZeneca Takes Control of Japanese Unit

  • AstraZeneca said today it now controls its Japanese subsidiary after buying out partner Sumitomo Chemical for about ¥10 billion ($102 million).

    "Our decision to gain full control of AstraZeneca K.K. reinforces our focus on Japan as a key growth platform," Marc Dunoyer, AstraZeneca’s CFO, said in a statement.

    The deal for control of AstraZeneca K.K. gives AstraZeneca a larger presence in the world’s second-largest pharmaceuticals market after the U.S., at a time when the pharma giant is scrambling to reverse years of sliding sales following patent expirations. To that end, it is restructuring operations to take advantage of opportunities in Asia, as well as to consolidate R&D activity in a handful of hubs, and eliminate 5,600 jobs through 2016.

    In Japan, AstraZeneca hopes to capitalize on regulatory reforms by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to speed up decisions on new drugs. That is one of several steps through which the nation hopes to better compete with China and other Asian nations for more biopharmaceutical industry activity.

    As GEN reported in January, Abe’s government set aside funding for cancer initiatives and more study of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), as well as pursing “Abenomics,” a series of targeted deregulations and other economic policies designed to reverse some two decades of stagnancy by positioning Japan as business-friendlier.

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