London/New York, May 26 (Reuters): Pfizer said on Monday it had abandoned its current attempt to buy AstraZeneca for nearly £70 billion ($118 billion) as a deadline approached without a last-minute change of heart by the British drug maker.
Pfizer had until 5pm on May 26 to make a firm offer or walk away, under UK takeover rules. Its decision to quit the stage, at least for now, had been widely expected after AstraZeneca refused its final offer of £55 a share.
“Following the AstraZeneca board’s rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer,” Pfizer said.
The biggest US drug maker promised it would not go hostile, leaving the fate of what would have been the world’s largest ever drugs merger in the hands of its target, whose board would have had to make a U-turn to get a deal done.
“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,” said Ian Read, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive.
British rules now require an enforced cooling-off period. AstraZeneca could reach out to Pfizer after three months and Pfizer could take another run at its British rival in six months time, whether it is invited back or not.
Pfizer’s final offer was at a price point that many analysts and investors had previously suggested would bring AstraZeneca to the table for serious negotiations.