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AstraZeneca to buy 9.8 percent stake in France's Innate Pharma

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AstraZeneca to buy 9.8 percent stake in France's Innate Pharma
FILE PHOTO - A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014.REUTERS/Phil Noble   -   Copyright  Phil Noble(Reuters)
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PARIS (Reuters) – British drugmaker AstraZeneca <AZN.L> will buy a newly issued equity stake of 9.8 percent in smaller French peer Innate Pharma <IPH.PA>, as consolidation intensifies in the healthcare sector.

AstraZeneca will buy the stake via around 6.26 million new shares being issued to it at a price of 10 euros per share, the companies said on Tuesday. Innate Pharma has a current market capitalisation of around 277 million euros (245 million pounds).

“Our expanded collaboration with Innate Pharma enables us to further strengthen our leadership in immuno-oncology, and to explore the potential of next-generation immuno-oncology pathways, together with the world-class scientific team ofInnate,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said.

AstraZeneca’s purchase of the stake in Innate Pharma marks the latest example of consolidation in the healthcare sector as the top companies battle for market share, with Novartis <NOVN.S> this month announcing its acquisition of cancer drugmaker Endocyte Inc <ECYT.O> for $2.1 billion (1.6 billion pounds).

AstraZeneca will gain access to Innate Pharma’s anti-CD39 monoclonal antibody, IPH5201, plus four additional immuno-oncology molecules. It will also pay Innate $100 million in the first quarter of 2019 for the expansion of their collaboration on monalizumab, which helps treat tumours.

In July, AstraZeneca reported that its new drugs had performed strongly in the second quarter, offering a glimpse of better times ahead as it struggles with falling sales of cholesterol-fighter Crestor due to competition.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Stephen Coates)

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