Pfizer hints at upping its bid for AstraZeneca

The increase in Pfizer's offer comes on a day when the British Parliament is hearing testimony on the takeover bid.
By Ananth Baliga  |  May 13, 2014 at 1:20 PM
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LONDON, May 13 (UPI) -- Pfizer said there is the possibility of a higher offer for AstraZeneca, urging the latter's board to initiate discussions that could result in an amicable transaction.

AstraZeneca had rejected Pfizer's earlier this month, saying that the latter was "making an opportunistic attempt to acquire a transformed AstraZeneca, without reflecting the value of its exciting pipeline." Pfizer has said that it was disappointed that AstraZeneca's board was reluctant to engage in talks. Pfizer has until May 26 to make a counter offer or walk away from the deal.

Executives from both companies appeared before the British Parliament Tuesday to provide testimony regarding the proposed takeover.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told members of parliament that the possible takeover could hit new drug development and cause huge disruptions and distractions, as scientists would be worried about their futures rather than focus on development.

"Any distractions on work we are doing now could run the risk of delaying our drugs pipeline," he said. "From the lab to the patient takes many years.

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read claimed that his company would protect jobs and investments, and the pharmaceutical company was not a ruthless cost-cutter, saying the drug maker would act with integrity.

Pfizer has not tabled a formal offer yet, but news of its $106 billion takeover bid has created a lot of controversy with the government arranging these hearings to protect U.K. interests.

But despite the concern, Business Secretary Vince Cable told the Business Committee that blocking such a bid could be "tricky." He said the government faces the dilemma of having to choose between foreign investment and protecting wider national interests.

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