AstraZeneca today announced the sale of its Alderley Park site to Manchester Science Parks (MSP), a Greater Manchester based public-private partnership and science park operator.
Manchester Science Parks' shareholders are Bruntwood Ltd, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Manchester and Salford City councils.
Bruntwood Ltd, the majority shareholder of MSP, is a North West-based, family-run and owned business with a property portfolio across Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham.
The acquisition is funded by Bruntwood, MSP and Cheshire East Council, with Bruntwood as the majority funder. The financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.
The sale is part of AstraZeneca's plan, set out in March 2013, to relocate its R&D activity from Alderley Park to a new global R&D centre and corporate headquarters in Cambridge, in 2016.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: "We believe that the sale of the site to Manchester Science Parks is the responsible and sustainable choice for the future of Alderley Park. The new owner is committed to building on AstraZeneca's life science legacy at the site and ensuring it remains a centre of biotechnology innovation in the North West of England. It will lead to future growth and offer significant opportunities for new jobs to be created."
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP, said: "I am delighted that the future of Alderley Park has been secured through today's deal with Manchester Science Parks. As the local MP, and as Chancellor, I'm fighting hard for the future of this site. So I am very pleased that Alderley Park, with its rich heritage of innovation, will now continue to operate at the centre of the UK's life sciences' industry. Today's deal ensures that new businesses are able to build on the site's history to deliver exciting new opportunities and more jobs for the North West which in turn means economic security and a brighter future for all those involved. Life Sciences are one of the UK's leading sectors and by backing places like Alderley Park, we are backing the industries of the future."
Chris Oglesby, Chairman of MSP and Chief Executive of MSP majority shareholder, Bruntwood, said: "We are delighted to have been entrusted with securing the future of Alderley Park as a bioscience facility of world class scale and quality. We are committed to developing a bioscience business cluster of international importance on the site, making it a flagship location of its kind for the North of England and the UK."
Chris Brinsmead, co-chair of the Taskforce set up ensure a sustainable and thriving future for Alderley Park, added "We are delighted with today's news that AstraZeneca has selected Manchester Science Parks as the buyer for the Alderley Park site. We are confident that MSP is the right choice to secure a strong future for the site, in line with the Taskforce's vision of a 'science for life' park, building on AstraZeneca's legacy of scientific innovation at Alderley Park.
"The collaboration we have seen from all the Taskforce members, as well as the wider life science community across the North West, has been an important part of the success so far in establishing and working towards a clear vision for the future of the site. We have a long way to go before the future is certain, but we are confident that with the right investment and support, we can ensure Alderley Park remains a productive and healthy contributor to the local and national economy into the future."
AstraZeneca will take pre-tax impairment charges of $275 million to non-core R&D expense in the first quarter of 2014. This forms part of the costs associated with the footprint changes announced in March 2013.
AstraZeneca expects to complete the sale by end of March 2014 and will remain a tenant on the site. Around 700 staff from AstraZeneca will remain at Alderley Park in non-R&D roles following the transition to Cambridge.
The handover of the site will be phased over a three year period, with the full exit of AstraZeneca R&D staff to take place in line with the completion of the company's new facility in Cambridge.