Market Report: Claims AstraZeneca has made $200-a-share offer for Receptos


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AstraZeneca has joined the pharmaceutical sector’s M&A party, or so rumour has it. The British drug maker, which spent much of 2014 batting away interest from US heavyweight Pfizer, is said to have made a $200-a-share offer for Receptos, which values the San Diego-based firm at £4.1bn.

However, sources say the Nasdaq-quoted company, which has treatments for multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, has rebuffed AstraZeneca’s advances. It is said to be holding out for at least $350 per share, more than double its current share price on Nasdaq of $157. Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals, which is embroiled in the hostile takeover of Mylan Laboratories, and America’s Gilead Sciences are also vying for Receptos’s affections.

AstraZeneca, under the guidance of French chief executive Pascal Soriot, has been beefing up its drug pipeline in an effort to offset expiring patents.

It follows weekend reports that fellow FTSE 100 drug group, Shire, had a £12bn bid for Actelion, the Swiss drug manufacturer, rejected. AstraZeneca, down 87p to 4,246p, refused to comment on the speculation.

There was no sign of a recovery from the FTSE 100, down 36.24 points to 6,753.8. Concerns about a deadlock in the Greek bailout talks and the prospect of a rise in US interest rates continue to keep buyers on the sidelines.

The US private equity owner of Pets At Home cashed in on the retailer’s recent strong performances by selling almost half its stake. KKR dumped 108 million shares at 267p, cutting its shareholding to 24.6 per cent. Pets At Home, fell 7.2p to 273.8p.

Plastic packaging business RPC Group rose 16.5p to 634.5p on the back of better-than-expected results that prompted Deutsche to lift its forecasts.

Troubled Polish shale gas tiddler 3Legs Resources soared 22 per cent to 0.31p as Jim Mellon joined the board. The Isle of Man-based multi-millionaire investor has a reputation of swooping in on cash-strapped AIM-listed companies. He did the same for Plethora Solutions, which has a treatment for premature ejaculation.