Industry Update

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April 2014, the period covered by this article, was characterized by a spate of merger and acquisition activity, some of which was still unfinished business at the end of the month. The takeover bid capturing most of the media attention was Pfizer’s attempt to buy AstraZeneca. The potential purchase of the world’s 8th largest pharmaceutical company by the 2nd biggest has created controversy on both sides of the Atlantic as it would enable Pfizer to reduce its tax bill, but is likely to result in significant job losses. Nowhere has the debate been so fierce as in the UK where AstraZeneca is headquartered and is still seen as a British company, even though its roots also lie in Sweden. At the time of writing this article AstraZeneca had rejected Pfizer’s second offer and the CEOs of both companies were appearing before UK parliamentary committees. However, by the end of May the US giant, which employs 2500 people in the UK and over 70,000 worldwide. gave up its bid to merge with its UK rival after the latter rejected its final offer of £55 sterling per share. In contrast to Pfizer and others, Glaxo and Novartis have taken an asset swap and joint venture approach to strengthening their pipelines and bolstering their market position, with the latter company also divesting of its Animal Health Business to Lilly.

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