AstraZeneca CEO spends $3.4 million on shares

LONDON, July 1 Tue Jul 1, 2014 8:02am EDT

LONDON, July 1 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca's chief executive has spent 2 million pounds ($3.40 million) on shares in the drugmaker, marking a vote of confidence in its prospects after the collapse of a $118 billion takeover bid by Pfizer .

The British group said on Tuesday that Pascal Soriot purchased 46,200 AstraZeneca shares on June 30 at a price of 43.45 pounds each. It did not given his current holding but Soriot had a beneficial interest in 151,581 shares at the end of 2013, according to the firm's annual report.

Some shareholders have expressed dissatisfaction at AstraZeneca's failure to clinch a deal with Pfizer. The U.S. group offered 55 pounds a share for the company in May and critics have argued Soriot's pay should be tied to getting the shares to this level.

Under UK takeover rules, Pfizer is allowed to bid again for AstraZeneca in late November, or be invited back by the British company at the end of August. Whether it does so will depend on developments at both companies.

AstraZeneca is banking on progress with a range of experimental medicines, particularly in cancer, to prove it is worth more than Pfizer offered. It has had some positive pipeline news recently but also suffered a setback last week when U.S. experts voted against accelerated approval of a new ovarian cancer drug.

The stock was 0.7 percent higher at 43.70 pounds by 1150 GMT, slightly outperforming a 0.3 percent advance in the European healthcare sector. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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