The paper cited senior investment bankers and industry sources
saying that informal conversations about a deal had taken place
between the two but that no talks were currently under way after
AstraZeneca resisted the approach.
Pfizer and AstraZeneca both declined to comment on the report to
AstraZeneca, Britain's second-biggest pharmaceuticals group, has
been frequently touted as a potential takeover target as it
wrestles with patents expiring on a number of best-selling
drugs, leaving future growth uncertain.
Despite these problems, the company has attracted attention for
experimental cancer drugs it is developing, which could be
interesting for Pfizer which has faced patent losses of its own,
notably anti-cholesterol treatment Lipitor.
The two firms are familiar with each other's products working
together on projects such as the pioneering of a new kind of
clinical trial for cancer drugs announced last week.
Pfizer could use cash it has accumulated through overseas
subsidiaries, which if repatriated to the U.S. would be heavily
In the past Swiss drug firm Novartis <NOVN.VX> and larger
British peer GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> have been mentioned as
potential suitors, although GSK has publicly said it is not
interested in making a large acquisition in recent years.
AstraZeneca, which announces first quarter results on Thursday,
has a market valuation of around $80 billion, compared with
Pfizer — valued at $193 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
[to top of second column]
Earnings at AstraZeneca fell 6 percent in the fourth quarter of
2013, and the drugmaker has said it expects them to keep falling
in 2014 as generic competition to Nexium, its popular heartburn
and ulcer drug, takes a big bite out of U.S. profits from late
AstraZeneca has suffered a dry period in drug discovery in recent
years and badly needs to find new medicines to replace
blockbusters such as Nexium and Crestor, a treatment for high
cholesterol that will lose patent protection in a few years.
Pfizer's last big acquisition was in 2009, when it bought U.S.
rival Wyeth for $68 billion.
($1 = 0.5949 British pounds)
(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; additional reporting by Ben
Hirschler; editing by Jane Baird and William Hardy)
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