Pfizer drops pursuit of AstraZeneca

(USA TODAY) -- Pfizer quit its months-long pursuit of rival AstraZeneca Monday, officially declaring it does not intend to make a new offer after the British drugmaker's rejection of its $119 billion bid last week.

The announcement was expected. Pfizer had described its latest offer as final and said it would not pursue a hostile deal if AstraZeneca declined to open formal negotiations.

"We continue to believe that our final proposal was compelling and represented full value for AstraZeneca based on the information that was available to us. As we said from the start, the pursuit of this transaction was a potential enhancement to our existing strategy," said Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer.

U.S.-based Pfizer initially proposed a merger with AstraZeneca in January. After it was rebuffed, Pfizer went public with a $100 billion cash-and-stock offer for the company in late April. AstraZeneca rejected that as inadequate, leading Pfizer to twice raise its bid, but each time AstraZeneca said Pfizer wasn't offering enough.

Had the companies merged, it would have been the largest foreign takeover of a British company.

Pfizer also aimed to use the acquisition to create a new corporate structure that might have saved it billions of dollars in U.S. taxes. It planned to combine the two drugmakers under a new holding company incorporated in the United Kingdom, where it would pay a lower tax rate than in the U.S., while keeping its headquarters in New York and remaining listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Pfizer is the world's second largest drugmaker by revenue, behind Novartis, is the maker of erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and cholesterol fighter Lipitor. AstraZeneca, at No. 8, is known for Crestor, another cholesterol drug, and the asthma drug Symbicort.

At Friday's New York closing price of $72.28, AstraZeneca shares are about 10% below where they were when Pfizer made its offer in late April. Pfizer, at $29.49 on Friday's close, is down about 7% since then.


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