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Pfizer ups offer for AstraZeneca again, to $119B

By LINDA A. JOHNSON AP Business Writer

Publication: theday.com

Published May 18. 2014 8:07PM   Updated May 18. 2014 8:08PM

New York — U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said Sunday that it has raised its offer for British rival AstraZeneca by 15 percent over its last bid, making the stock-and-cash offer worth $118.8 billion, or 70.73 billion pounds.

If the deal comes off — and it’s no sure thing — it would be the richest acquisition ever among drugmakers and the third-biggest deal in any industry, according to figures from research firm Dealogic.

Pfizer Inc., the world’s second-biggest drugmaker by revenue, has been courting No. 8 AstraZeneca PLC since January, saying their businesses are complementary and would be stronger together.

This is the third time Pfizer has sweetened its offer, but it’s the New York company’s first formal proposal. It also increased the ratio of cash AstraZeneca shareholders would receive, from 33 percent to 45 percent.

The latest offer would give them the equivalent of 55 pounds for each AstraZeneca share, split between 1.747 shares of the new company and 2.476 pence in cash.

AstraZeneca has repeatedly rejected Pfizer’s offers, insisting they significantly undervalue the company and its portfolio of experimental drugs. The company and British government officials also have raised concerns about the prospect of job cuts, facility closures and erosion of the science base in the UK, where London-based AstraZeneca is the second-biggest drugmaker, behind GalxoSmithKline PLC.

Pfizer has made assurances that such cuts would be limited, promising to complete AstraZeneca’s research and development hub in Cambridge and to establish the new company’s tax residence in England, which would significantly reduce its future tax rate.

But layoffs are inevitable in big mergers, and Pfizer has a track record of eliminating tens of thousands of jobs around the world as a result of megadeals.

 

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