U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc is working on its next move in a potential $100 billion battle for Britain's AstraZeneca Plc after having two bids rejected, a chase welcomed by investors in both companies as deal making grips the healthcare industry.
Pfizer said on Monday it made a 58.8 billion pounds ($98.9 billion) bid approach to AstraZeneca in January and had contacted its British rival again on April 26, seeking to further discuss a takeover.
Buying AstraZeneca would boost Pfizer's pipeline of cancer drugs and create significant cost and tax savings.
AstraZeneca shares were up 13 percent on news of the latest approach, which would be the biggest foreign acquisition of a British firm and one of the largest pharmaceutical deals. Pfizer rose 4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.
Under British takeover rules, Pfizer has until May 26 to announce a firm intention to make an offer or back away.
The renewed approach comes amid a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the sector, pushing the value of deals to $153 billion so far this year, as the industry restructures amid healthcare spending cuts and competition from cheap generics.
"Society wants products faster, they want more products and they want value," Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read told reporters. "Industry is responding to society's request for increased efficiencies and productivity."
Read said AstraZeneca had declined to engage in talks and the U.S. group was now considering its options, but he remained convinced that combining the two companies made strategic sense and would benefit AstraZeneca investors.
Read told U.S. analysts that since the initial approach to AstraZeneca four months ago, both companies had seen experimental drugs fare well in trials. At the same time, Pfizer concluded it was too difficult to pursue big deals domestically while being on the hook for higher U.S. tax rates.
"We're coming from a position of strength, on our near-term pipeline" of experimental drugs, Read said.
Recent favorable data include results for Pfizer's experimental breast cancer medicine palbociclib, studies testing new uses for its Xeljanz arthritis drug and trials showing its Prevnar vaccine for children also prevents pneumonia in the elderly.
AstraZeneca said Pfizer's suggested offer undervalued the company "very significantly," adding that Pfizer wanted to pay 70 percent in shares and only 30 percent in cash. AstraZeneca urged its shareholders to take no action and said it remained confident of its independent strategy.
Pfizer's original proposal, made to the board of AstraZeneca on Jan. 5, would