Pfizer's Quest for AstraZeneca May Be Over

May 19, 2014

Pfizer CEO Ian Read
Credit Pfizer

Pfizer's bid for rival pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca looks likely to fail, after the UK business turned down its latest offer.

On Monday, AstraZeneca rejected a sweetened offer from Pfizer. It's just the latest move in a courtship that's lasted several months.

Pfizer offered a 15 percent increase on its previous bid -- a total of $119 billion. The U.S. company had said that if this offer was rejected, it would walk away, and would not resort to a hostile takeover bid.

Executives from both companies participated in a two-hour video conference on Sunday.

Central to AstraZeneca's concerns is the worry that Pfizer may strip down its research and development efforts in the UK, something it's done with previous takeovers. It also believes Pfizer's offer price substantially undervalues the company's assets. For its part, Pfizer has committed to keep open an R&D hub that AstraZeneca is building in Cambridge, England.

The deal would have represented the biggest ever foreign takeover of a UK company, and it was subject to scrutiny by British lawmakers during hearings last week.

Pfizer, which employs about 3,000 people in Connecticut, said if the deal had gone through, it would have moved its legal residence to the UK, reducing its U.S. tax liability.