Pfizer Confirms AstraZeneca Interest

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- New York pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer (PFE) on Monday said it was considering making a renewed run at AstraZeneca AZN to strengthen its cancer treatments after a failed January approach and as rivals successfully expand their oncology businesses.

Pfizer said it hoped to offer AstraZeneca investors a "significant premium" after trying to lure AstraZeneca into talks with a 4,661 pence ($78.51) per-share offer, which it said represented a 30% premium for shareholders at the time. It envisages an offer in both cash and shares but said it may alter the final terms.

Although investors already pushed up the stock 7.9% last week amid reports of Pfizer's interest, AstraZeneca shares leapt 11.5%, or 481.50 pence, to 4,656.50 pence in Monday morning trading in London. That values the company at 58.8 billion pounds.

"We believe patients all over the globe would benefit from our shared commitment to R&D, which is critical to the future success of the pharmaceutical industry, in the form of potential new therapies that help to fight some of the world's most feared diseases, such as cancer," said Pfizer CEO and chairman Ian Read in a statement.

Drug companies the world over kicked off a consolidation a decade ago that has included a series of multi-billion dollar deals as manufacturers try to offset the loss of patents on blockbuster drugs. They've also spent to buy drug development companies and sold off less profitable assets.

Last week, Basel's Novartis (NVS) agreed to buy the oncology business of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), adding impetus to Pfizer's ambitions. Novartis also wants to sell its vaccine business to GlaxoSmithKline and link its over-the-counter business with the buyer's. Novartis also announced a deal to sell its animal health division to Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly (LLY).

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