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Acquisitions

Pfizer announces bids for merger with AstraZeneca

Is last week's frenzy of wheeling and dealing in the pharma sector only the beginning? Pfizer is now on the record about its desires for a merger with Astra Zeneca, which is so far playing hard to get.

US drug maker Pfizer Inc has confirmed its interest in a merger with Britian's second largest pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca Plc. The deal could be worth over $100 billion, making it one of the largest mergers ever in the volatile sector.

AstraZeneca has not commented on the Pfizer announcement, but last week AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot was reported as saying his company was looking for “partnering options” for research outside of its core product areas.

Pfizer says it approached AstraZeneca in January with a bid worth $100 billion, but was turned down. The latest overture took place over the weekend, and Pfizer says AstraZeneca again failed to signal interest.

Global players scrambling

Pfizer's renewed bid for AstraZeneca comes amid a wave of deal-making in the pharmaceutical sector worldwide. Global players are scrambling to make up for lost sales due to expiring patents on high-profit drugs. They are also focusing on markets with potential for high growth, and shedding investments that look less promising.

Pharmaceutical industry versus global health care?

Last week Switzerland's Novartis, Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly of the US said they were engineering $25 billion worth of deals to switch the ownership of key assets. Also last week, Canada's Valeant revealed a $46-billion bid to acquire Allergan of the US.

kpc /hg (Reuters, AFP)

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