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AstraZeneca ‘rejects Pfizer bid’

Published on 22/04/14 at 11:56am
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AstraZeneca has rebuffed a £60 billion bid from Pfizer, according to media reports.

Both companies have declined to comment on a revealing Sunday Times article, but such an offer would make it a far bigger deal than the US company’s last major transaction, the £40 billion merger with Wyeth in 2009.

While AstraZeneca has had difficulties in recent times, chief executive Pascal Soriot has pledged that it would halt the slide in its global sales in the next three years.

However, the manufacturer admits it has been ‘battling headwinds’, with turnover last year down 8% to $25.7 billion, and profit plummeting 25% to $8.4 billion.

AstraZeneca has been beset by a number of late-stage failures, including a number of drugs for cancer, which has seen hundreds of millions of dollars wiped off the firm’s balance sheet.

The company has also been dealing with patent expiries, notably for former blockbusters such as the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine) and gastrointestinal treatment Nexium (esomeprazole).

However, potential buyers might be attracted by what the company dubs its progress in ‘scientific leadership’, with a pipeline now containing 11 new Phase III molecules - almost twice as many as 2012.

It also made a $4.3 billion acquisition of its own late last year, buying Bristol-Myers Squibb’s diabetes business in a move which gives AstraZeneca control over several big-name brands including Onglyza, Forxiga and Byetta in a core therapy area.

AstraZeneca is also reorganising its global operations in a bid to improve R&D productivity, creating a new £330 million R&D centre and international HQ in Cambridge, UK, and adding to existing sites in the US and Sweden by 2016.

While the company anticipates it can create up to $1.1 billion of annual benefits, it admits the cost of making it happen will be $700 million higher than first thought, pushing the restructuring bill up to $3.2 billion.      

Adam Hill

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