AstraZeneca has unveiled plans to buy California-based ZS Pharma for $2.7 billion in a move that adds ballast to its cardiovascular and metabolic disease offering.

The transaction gives the drug giant access to the potassium-binding compound ZS-9, a potential best-in-class treatment for hyperkalaemia - a condition characterised by elevated levels of potassium in the blood linked with increased mortality in chronic kidney disease and coronary heart failure. 

The drug is currently being reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration, with an outcome expected by May 26 next year, while a submission in Europe is planned by the end of 2015. Current estimates for global peak year sales of ZS-9 exceed $1 billion, AZ said.

Under the terms of the deal, which have been unanimously approved by ZS Phama’s board of directors, AZ will acquire all of its outstanding capital stock for $90 per share in an all-cash transaction, which equates to some $2.7 billion. ZS Pharma, which has around 200 employees across three sites in California, Texas and Colorado, will then become a wholly owned subsidiary of AZ. 

The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the year, will not impact AZ’ financial guidance for 2015. The firm expects that the move will generate product sales from 2016, with minimal earnings dilution over 2016 and 2017, becoming accretive to core earnings from 2018.