Pfizer raises heat on AstraZeneca to open talks over £63bn merger

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read turned the screw on bid target AstraZeneca yesterday as he attacked its refusal to enter talks with the US pharmaceuticals giant over a $106bn (£63bn) merger.

Mr Read has been wooing Astra’s shareholders and Government ministers over a politically sensitive deal which would mark the biggest ever foreign takeover of a UK company.

He said yesterday Astra’s summary rejection of an improved £50-a-share offer was “very disappointing”, and signalled to shareholders that the US suitor could yet walk away from a deal, saying he was “very confident in our go-forward strategy regardless of a combination”.

The Pfizer boss emphasised the latest offer on the table was more than 20 per cent above Astra’s all-time record share price, representing a return to investors “well in excess of its standalone prospects”.

Mr Read told US analysts: “Up to this point we have only had access to public information on AstraZeneca. Based on what we have learned through that information we believe our revised proposal is compelling and responds to what we have heard from their shareholders.

“We are very disappointed in their unwillingness to engage in conversations and believe it is in the best interests of both companies and AstraZeneca and Pfizer shareholders that we pursue a friendly, negotiated transaction.

“We would like to engage with AstraZeneca to gain a better understanding of their business and prospects.”

AstraZeneca is likely to set out a defence of its prospects and more details on its pipeline of new products this week, although any eventual deal will inevitably be fraught with controversy.

Mr Read has pledged to keep 20 per cent of the combined company’s research and development spending in the UK and press on with Astra’s new Cambridge research base.

However, memories of broken promises following US food giant Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury in 2010 are fresh and Labour leader Ed Miliband has highlighted the “pretty dubious” record of Pfizer in the UK, including the partial closure of its research centre at Sandwich in Kent three years ago with the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Pfizer wants to use the deal to save billions of dollars by moving its tax base to the UK, and also to reclaim the mantle of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, which it recently lost to Switzerland’s Novartis.

Mr Read’s comments came alongside disappointing first-quarter results, which sent Pfizer’s shares lower on Wall Street.

Pfizer’s profits were down 15 per cent in the first quarter as generic copies of cholesterol-buster Lipitor – the top-selling drug of all time at its peak – hit the company.

Sales of Viagra – the erectile disfunction drug Pfizer is best-known for in the UK – are also at the mercy of copycat rivals and sales were down 19 per cent on a year earlier. Overall revenues of $11.35bn were 9 per cent down on the year and short of analyst expectations of $12.1bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Jemma Gent: Project Coordinator

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Jemma Gent: In this role you will report to the Head of...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable