A bid at that level would value Britain's
second-biggest pharmaceuticals group at around $113 billion.
Pfizer's pursuit of AstraZeneca in potentially the biggest ever
foreign takeover of a British firm has provoked a political
storm, with Prime Minister David Cameron demanding Pfizer give
stronger guarantees it will keep jobs and investment in the
Pfizer's previous approach, which was promptly rejected by the
AstraZeneca board, initially valued the group at $106 billion -
but the value of that cash-and-stock offer has since slipped
because of a fall in Pfizer shares following weak quarterly
A stock market report in the Daily Mail newspaper said many
investors believed Pfizer was working with its advisers on a
"knockout offer" of more than 53 pounds per share that would be
made by the weekend.
"The deal is not there, but it's not off the table either,"
Dafydd Davies, senior trader at London-based Prime Wealth Group,
Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read is heading to London next week
to lay out his case for a merger in front of two parliamentary
committees on May 13 and 14.
A Pfizer spokesman had no comment on the company's bid plans.
Investors are betting that a deal will get done, despite the
political noise. "One way or another, I think the deal will go
ahead," said Beaufort Securities sales trader Basil Petrides.
Analysts at Barclays, who believe Pfizer could make the deal pay
at any price up to 56 pounds a share, said in a note to clients
last Friday that AstraZeneca shares could fall 21 percent if the
U.S. company walked away.
AstraZeneca laid out a defense strategy on Tuesday by flagging
up the potential of a range of promising experimental medicines
that it said would boost sales by three quarters over the next
Chief Executive Pascal Soriot and his management team are now
following up with a series of meetings with leading shareholders
to get their feedback. The British group has not ruled out a
deal altogether and people familiar with the matter said it was
willing to talk if there was a compelling offer.
Soriot, who is credited with reviving the company's drug
pipeline, has won the support of a number of investors,
including leading shareholder Investor <INVEb.ST>, which owns
4.1 percent and has had a stake in legacy firm Astra since 1924.
Investor's Marcus Wallenberg also sits on the drugmaker's board.
Several other large shareholders, however, have told Reuters
they would favor engagement with Pfizer to secure a higher
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Ben Hirschler; Editing by
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