Home Business Pfizer set to increase offer for UK’s AstraZeneca

Pfizer set to increase offer for UK’s AstraZeneca


By Andrew Ward and Elizabeth Rigby in London and Ed Hammond in New York

Pfizer plans to sweeten its £60bn takeover approach for AstraZeneca, increasing pressure on its UK rival to enter talks on creating the world’s largest drugmaker.

Ian Read, Pfizer chairman and chief executive, returned to New York yesterday to plot his next move after two days of meetings in London aimed at winning support from the government and the City for the biggest foreign takeover of a UK company.

Two people close to the company said that an increase on its initial offer could come within days. “We want to get AstraZeneca to the table, and to do that there will need to be a higher offer,” said one.

Pfizer revealed its interest in AstraZeneca on ­Monday after Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker rebuffed an informal £46.61 a share offer in January.

Analysts and investors say the offer would have to be increased above £50 per share to stand a chance of coaxing AstraZeneca into talks and would have to include more cash. ­On Thursday AstraZeneca shares rose 2.75 per cent to £47.92.

However, David Cameron, UK prime minister, faced further pressure to intervene.

Lord Sainsbury, former Labour science minister and a British philanthropist, said Pfizer had a record of asset- stripping and pointed out that the group had cut 1,500 research and development jobs at one of its UK facilities three years ago.

Any assurances made on UK jobs and investment would be “frankly meaningless”, he said. “It is clear to me that this proposed takeover is going to deal a devastating blow to our profile in the pharmaceutical area, which I think is going to be critical in the next 30 years.” (FT)

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