AstraZeneca Gives Pfizer the Cold Shoulder

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A Monday press release confirmed investors’ earlier suspicions: that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is still chasing AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN). Pfizer previously made an offer for the rival, British drug maker in January and was promptly rejected. But it seems Pfizer isn’t quite so easily swayed — the company reportedly contacted AstraZeneca on April 26, in light of recent market events, to reopen the discussion regarding a possible merger. Again, AstraZeneca declined to engage in discussions.

According to Reuters, the company’s January offer to AstraZeneca was 58.8 billion pounds for the company, or about $98.9 billion, though the company has not yet made a second offer to the company. According to British takeover rules, Pfizer has until May 26 to make a firm offer or back away, Reuters reports.

It’s been speculated that Pfizer may be eager to get its hands on AstraZeneca’s growing cancer pipeline, especially considering the Rouses Point, New York-based company’s own lineup of therapies, particularly palbociclib, a breast cancer treatment that has impressed both analysts and researchers alike.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read says that despite AstraZeneca’s reluctance to engage in talks, he believes the two companies would be “better together,” as it were, benefitting AstraZeneca shareholders as well as making strategic sense. In an interview with Reuters, Read said that since Pfizer’s January offer, both companies have seen investigational drugs do well in clinical trials; “we’re coming from a position of strength, on our near-term pipeline,” he added.

“We believe patients all over the globe would benefit from our shared commitment to R&D, which is critical to the future success of the pharmaceuticals industry, in the form of new potential therapies that help to fight some of the world’s most feared diseases, such as cancer,” a Pfizer press release, confirming the company’s interest in AstraZeneca, said Monday.

Analysts say that should Pfizer make a second offer for AstraZeneca, it is likely to be larger than the previous one due to a rise in AstraZeneca’s shares since then. Analysts suspect the British drug maker could go for a least $100 billion, according to Reuters.

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