LONDON (The Deal) -- Pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) on Monday, May 26, withdrew a £69.4 billion ($117 billion) indicative offer for U.K. peer AstraZeneca (AZN - Get Report), whose rejection of the thrice-sweetened proposal provoked a mixed response from shareholders.
In an announcement before a Takeover Panel "put up or shut up" deadline of 5 p.m. London time on Monday, Pfizer chairman and CEO Ian Read said the company still believed "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. We will continue our focus on the execution of our plans, bringing forth new treatments to meet patients' needs and remaining responsible stewards of our shareholders' capital," he added.
The New York company's retreat ends, for now at least, a takeover saga which burst into the open just over a month ago. In the process it divided opinion among AstraZeneca shareholders, sparked a debate in the U.S. about the acceptable parameters of tax inversion and prompted the U.K. government to consider extending its limited powers to intervene in takeovers in order to preserve a science base some lawmakers believe would be eroded by a Pfizer takeover.
Under the terms of the U.K. Takeover Code, Pfizer is barred from returning with a bid for AstraZeneca for six months in most circumstances, but can hold talks again after three months if invited to do so by the target.