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Alexion Moving To New Haven, Adding Up To 300 Jobs

Alexion Moving to New Haven, Adding Up to 300 Jobs [the Hartford Courant, Conn.]

From Hartford Courant (CT) (June 19, 2012)

June 19--Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a fast-growing drug developer that has seen phenomenal success on Wall Street over the last five years, is returning to New Haven from Cheshire and adding hundreds of jobs, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced next door to the development site.

In exchange for moving more than 350 people now in Cheshire and adding as many as 300 additional people by 2017, Alexion will be eligible for a state package worth up to $51 million in tax credits, a grant and a forgivable loan.

Alexion will move into a new headquarters at a key location in the Elm City, near Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine, on College Street, on land now occupied by an Interstate highway.

A 400,000 square-foot building with street-level retail and a parking garage of at least 600 spaces, costing approximately $100 million, would open by 2015 under the agreement. The developer is Winstanley Enterprises, a prominent local firm.

With Tuesday’s announcement, Alexion becomes the fourth company in Malloy’s First Five program, designed to give large aid packages to businesses adding at least 200 jobs.

It is also part of Malloy’s push to support the biotech industry, which he is making into a hallmark of his administration.

"One of my first acts as Governor was to launch Bioscience Connecticut, an initiative designed to expand and improve Connecticut’s research and development capacity," Malloy said in a written release. "Bioscience is a $284 billion dollar business. With the investments we’ve made, we will ensure that Connecticut is in a position to compete for every dollar for years to come."

Alexion was founded in New Haven’s Science Park development in 1992 by Dr. Leonard Bell, a Yale medical professor who is still the company’s CEO. The company went public in 1997, and moved to Cheshire in 2000.

In 2007, Alexion received approval for Soliris, the first and only treatment for two rare disorders, including a genetic disease and a life-threatening blood disorder "characterized by the excessive destruction of red blood cells," the company said on its website.

Alexion is part of a wave in which smaller drug developers are emerging as major players in the high-risk, ultra-high-cost business of drug development. Over the last five years, Alexion shares have increased by 723 percent -- more than eight-fold -- as the Standard & Poor’s 500 list of major U.S. companies is down by 10.6 percent.

As a result, Alexion, with a market value of more than $18 billion, has been able to make a series of acquisitions, most recently Enobia Pharma Corp. of Montreal and Cambridge, Mass., in February.

"The acquisition was intended to further our objective to develop and deliver therapies for patients with ultra-rare, severe, and life-threatening disorders," Alexion said in its annual report.

Alexion has operations around the world and about 1,000 employees, including a manufacturing facility in Rhode Island. The company is keeping headquarters, research and development, marketing and other functions in Connecticut, but will not move manufacturing here, under the agreement announced Tuesday.

The deal with the state Department of Economic and Community Development gives Alexion a $20 million, forgivable loan at 1 percent interest; a $6 million grant; and urban enterprise zone tax credits up to $25 million.

The hope behind the agreement, and behind Alexion’s move, is that the company completes the transition from its roots as a boutique drug designer into the ranks of international pharmaceutical firms with a pipeline of therapies. Alexion’s annual report described several drugs now in development.

Other First Five companies are Cigna, in Bloomfield; ESPN in Bristol; and NBC Sports in Stamford. TicketNetwork of South Windsor was announced last summer as a First Five company, and has already added at least 150 jobs, ahead of its promised schedule, but the company pulled out of the program after Don Vaccaro, its CEO and controlling shareholder, was arrested in February and charged with intimidation and a racial hate crime.

Vaccaro stepped aside as CEO and last month was accepted into the state’s accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation designed for people with no prior convictions. He said he was treated for alcohol abuse but denied making any racial slurs.


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Posted: June 2012