Health, fitness and Food

Rejected! After a month-long battle, AstraZeneca sends American rival Pfizer packing with a stinging condemnation of its £69billion bid

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AstraZeneca yesterday rejected a last-ditch £69billion offer by US rival Pfizer – ending a month-long battle over its future.

The British pharmaceuticals giant all but secured its independence when it called the bid ‘inadequate’ in a strongly worded rejection.

Bosses said it ‘failed to make a compelling’ case which presented ‘serious consequences’ for the company, jobs and research in Britain.

If no deal is agreed by Monday next week, Pfizer must wait at least six months before making another move under UK takeover rules.

The Viagra maker is also legally barred from increasing its offer or making a ‘hostile’ bid directly to Astra’s shareholders.

It is the fourth approach the company has made in a bid to buy its British competitor.

But concerns over jobs, medical research and Pfizer’s tax affairs have seen the potential takeover criticised by scientists, City investors and MPs.

Astra also warned that the move would have delayed the development of life-saving cancer or diabetes drugs.

Pfizer had spent all weekend drawing up plans to win over the Astra board, and tabled its ‘final’ offer of £55 a share late on Sunday evening. But Astra yesterday threw out the proposal and issued a stinging rebuttal.

Chairman Leif Johansson said: ‘We have rejected Pfizer’s final proposal because it is inadequate and would present significant risks for shareholders, while also having serious consequences for the company, our employees and the life-sciences sector in the UK, Sweden and the US.’

He added: ‘Pfizer’s approach throughout its pursuit of AstraZeneca appears to have been fundamentally driven by the corporate financial benefits to its shareholders of cost savings and tax minimisation.

'From our first meeting in January to our latest discussion yesterday, and in the numerous phone calls in between, Pfizer has failed to make a compelling strategic, business or value case.’

Shares in the British drugs group yesterday fell to £42 – way below Pfizer’s offer price – indicating that investors now think a deal is unlikely.

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