Zeneca confident on merger

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The Independent Online
ZENECA YESTERDAY brushed aside the possibility that its planned pounds 21bn merger with Sweden's Astra to form the third-largest drugs group in the world could be derailed by a counter-bid.

Sir David Barnes, the Zeneca chief executive, told reporters that he did not believe the merger would be disrupted by the last-ditch intervention of another bidder. Market rumours have suggested that Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, the two UK giants, or the Swiss group Roche could move in for Zeneca.

Sir David's comments came as Zeneca revealed a 7.5 per cent fall to pounds 817m in pre-tax profits in the nine months to the end of September.

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