Belfast Telegraph

Pfizer ends pursuit of AstraZeneca after bid is rejected

By Tim Moynihan

US drugs giant Pfizer officially withdrew from its attempt to take over AstraZeneca after the UK-based group repeatedly spurned its advances.

Pfizer said in a statement: "On May 18, 2014, Pfizer announced that it had made a final proposal to AstraZeneca to make an offer to combine the two companies.

"Following the AstraZeneca board's rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer for AstraZeneca."

Ian Read, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, said: "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.

"As we said from the start, the pursuit of this transaction was a potential enhancement to our existing strategy. We will continue our focus on the execution of our plans, bringing forth new treatments to meet patients' needs and remaining responsible stewards of our shareholders' capital."

AstraZeneca last week rejected an improved final offer of £69bn from Viagra maker Pfizer as at least £5bn too low.

That was regarded as putting an end to weeks of intensifying rhetoric over a possible deal ahead of yesterday's deadline, amid increasing concern over the impact of likely cost-cutting on UK jobs and the country's science base.

The rejection met with discontent from some institutional shareholders, though others supported it.

The takeover attempt was formally launched by Pfizer at the end of last month, but hostility to the proposed deal included criticism in some quarters of plans for the newly-merged drugs giant to be redomiciled for tax purposes in the UK while retaining headquarters in New York.

AstraZenec chairman Leif Johansson said: "We note Pfizer's confirmation that it no longer intends to make an offer for AstraZeneca. We welcome the opportunity to continue building on the momentum we have already demonstrated as an independent company.

"We are fully focused on the delivery of our strategy.

"We have attractive growth prospects and a rapidly progressing pipeline."

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of the union Unite, said: "Pfizer failed to convince hardly anyone that their bid was good for science and would secure skilled jobs and manufacturing in the UK.

"There can be no room for complacency though.

"We expect that there will be renewed pressure on shareholders over the coming months with the likelihood that Pfizer could be back in its attempts to take over AstraZeneca.

"The Government needs to use this time to intervene and put a public interest test in place for proposed takeovers of this size, just as other governments do, such as the French, which has strengthened its powers to act to protect strategic industries."

Belfast Telegraph