News Column

Astra shares down as Pfizer walks

May 28, 2014

By Peter Campbell, Daily Mail, London

May 28--Shares in AstraZeneca fell yesterday after it confirmed that US predator Pfizer had walked away.

The proposed pounds sterling 69bn takeover had valued Britain's second biggest drug-maker's shares at pounds sterling 55 each.

Yesterday they fell 76p to 4252p after the Monday deadline for a deal passed and Pfizer said it was walking away.

It came as Pfizer boss Ian Read lashed out at UK takeover rules.

He criticised the rules which have been recently revamped in order to protect British companies during bid attempts for forcing Pfizer into the 'public spotlight'.

The current rules 'are not very conducive to getting to the right solution for shareholders,' he said.

As well as the glare of publicity and scrutiny over its tax affairs that came alongside the bid, takeover rules prevented Pfizer from increasing its 'final' pounds sterling 55 offer.

In issuing its ultimatum, the company locked itself into a legally binding obligation not to increase its bid a move that cost it the deal. Speaking after the deal collapsed, the Pfizer chief said he offered the final sum 'because we could not get engagement on any substantive issues'. He said Astra's chief executive Pascal Soriot and chairman Leif Johansson 'definitely wanted to remain independent and simply didn't believe we were offering them value'.

Astra has come under pressure from investors to return to the table as soon as the three month embargo on talks ends. Its largest shareholders have urged the board to re-engage with Pfizer.


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Source: Daily Mail (London, England)

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