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Alexion Pharmaceuticals Wins Conn. Aid For 300 Jobs

The biopharmaceutical firm says it will establish its global headquarters in New Haven with $20 million in loan forgiveness based on successful job creation.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) β€” Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is expected to create up to 300 jobs after moving its headquarters to New Haven with as much as $51 million in state aid, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday.

Malloy announced the economic development move as part of his "First Five" initiative intended to spur large-scale business development.

Alexion, which posted profit of $175.3 million on sales of $783.4 million in 2011, was founded in 1992 as a biopharmaceutical startup in New Haven's Science Park. It moved in 2000 to Cheshire, Conn., where it employs more than 350 workers.

State aid includes a 10-year loan of $20 million at a 1 percent interest rate with principal and interest deferred for five years, loan forgiveness of $16 million to $20 million based on the creation of 200 to 300 full-time jobs, and a $6 million grant to build laboratories and equipment.

Alexion says it will establish its global headquarters at a new site to be built in New Haven by 2015. The drug developer's only approved product, the rare blood disorder treatment Soliris, treats paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, or PNH, which causes a breakdown of red blood cells and leads to anemia.

The drug was approved in late 2011 also as a treatment for a second condition, atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, which often leads to kidney failure and death.

Spokesman Irving Adler said Alexion anticipates growth with new uses for Soliris and research and development into more pharmaceutical compounds.

The company had other options for locating its new headquarters, he said, citing a site where it operates in Smithfield, R.I., and a research and development office in Cambridge, Mass. Connecticut's state aid was "a factor in our decision, absolutely," Adler said.

Chief Executive Leonard Bell said that by combining Alexion's research, operational and administrative functions at one site, efficiency will be maximized while the company remains in Connecticut.

Malloy said the Alexion deal advances a priority of his, boosting the state's bioscience industry.

"With the investments we've made, we will ensure that Connecticut is in a position to compete for every dollar for years to come," he said in a statement announcing the state aid to Alexion.

The project includes construction of a $100 million laboratory and office building in which Alexion will be the primary tenant. The 400,000-square foot building will include retail stores.

Alexion is the fourth company to benefit from Malloy's "First Five" initiative, which was established last year to consolidate state tax credits to draw the first five businesses investing $25 million in Connecticut and creating 200 jobs over five years.

ESPN, Cigna Corp., and NBC Sports TicketNetwork are the others to have received state aid in exchange for pledges of job creation.

Online ticket exchange TicketNetwork withdrew early this year after its CEO was arrested on charges of a hate crime and breach of peace. He was accused of hurling a racial insult at a party in Hartford.

State aid was awarded to TicketNetwork, which β€” like Alexion β€” was moving within Connecticut. Jerry Sitko, Cheshire's economic development director, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Alexion's exit.

Malloy has said that negotiating to bring companies from outside Connecticut is more complicated because office and manufacturing space must be acquired.

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