Astra says looks at "everything", silent on Amylin

LONDON Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:14am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca, which plans to buy Ardea Biosciences for $1.26 billion, is also looking at a range of other biotech assets - but its research head would not be drawn on interest in Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

Amylin has started reaching out to potential buyers after spurning a $3.5 billion takeover bid from Bristol-Myers Squibb, sources familiar with the situation said at the weekend.

Analysts have speculated that Amylin could be attractive to AstraZeneca, given the two companies' shared interest in diabetes.

"I wouldn't comment on specific companies but we look at everything," AstraZeneca research head Martin Mackay said on Monday, when asked about U.S.-based Amylin in a telephone interview.

Britain's second-biggest drugmaker, which needs to replenish its pipeline as older medicines go off patent, has considerable firepower for acquisitions, with cash reserves standing at $7.6 billion at the end of December.

"We've been very prudent in terms of our R&D spend and we've taken some tough decisions in terms of sites and headcounts - and part of that is to make headroom for us to be able to do deals," Mackay said.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Chris Wickham)

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