Pfizer pledges not to make hostile bid direct to shareholders
AstraZeneca’s (AZ) board has rejected another increased offer in Pfizer’s attempt to initiate a merger. The US giant has described this proposal, valuing AZ at £70 billion, as ‘final’ and says it ‘cannot be increased’. Pfizer has also stated that it will not make a hostile offer direct to AZ’s shareholders.
In their dismissal of the proposal, AZ’s board said that the final offer ‘continues to fall short of [our] view of value’, and that it ‘would present significant risks for shareholders, while also having serious consequences for the company, our employees and the life-sciences sector in the UK, Sweden and the US’. Of particular concern was the board’s assessment that the proposal continues to emphasise tax advantages over operational ones. ‘Pfizer has failed to make a compelling strategic, business or value case,’ the board noted.
There are still some circumstances under which the deal could proceed, and Pfizer is urging AZ’s shareholders to convince the board to enter negotiations before the offer expires on 26 May. Pfizer’s chief executive Ian Read said in the final proposal, ‘We remain ready to engage in meaningful dialogue … We believe that our proposal represents compelling and full value for AstraZeneca and that other issues that have been raised by AstraZeneca do not represent material difficulties.’