Time called on Pfizer–AstraZeneca deal

Pfizer’s pursuit of a pharmaceutical megamerger with AstraZeneca (AZ) has concluded with the US giant withdrawing its final offer two hours before the deadline set by the UK’s takeover rules.

The City Code on Takeovers and Mergers allows Pfizer to make a new approach to AZ after a six month cooling off period, or AZ can invite Pfizer to negotiate after three months. Given the Anglo-Swedish firm’s steadfast refusal to entertain Pfizer’s advances, the latter option seems unlikely. ‘We welcome the opportunity to continue building on the momentum we have already demonstrated as an independent company,’ AZ’s chairman Leif Johansson said in a statement after the withdrawal.

Pfizer, in its turn, is leaving the door open. ‘We continue to believe that our final proposal was compelling and represented full value for AstraZeneca based on the information that was available to us’ said chief executive Ian Read in the withdrawal statement. The value and attactiveness of any new offer will depend strongly on how well AZ lives up to predictions about forthcoming drugs made by the board to justify its refusal of this deal. 

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