From the Twitter account of AstraZeneca:
“Astra AB was founded in 1913 in Södertälje, Sweden.’Astra’ has its roots in the Greek astron, meaning ‘a star’.
Zeneca was formed in June 1993 by the demerger of the pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals businesses of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) into a separate company.
“Zeneca” is an invented name, created by an agency instructed to find a name which began with a letter from either the top or bottom of the alphabet and was phonetically memorable, of no more than three syllables and did not have an offensive meaning in any language.
The merger in 1999 between Swedish pharmaceutical company, Astra AB, and UK-based Zeneca Group plc, was one of the largest-ever European mergers at the time.”