(Refiles to correct Reuters instrument code in paragraph 1)
LONDON May 21 AstraZeneca's
shareholders remain split over the UK pharmaceuticals giant's
decision to reject a $118 billion offer from U.S. rival Pfizer
, with AXA coming out against it Threadneedle supporting
"It is the view of AXA IM UK that the board of AstraZeneca
should not prevent an offer from Pfizer of 55 pounds ($92.67)
per share from being put to the shareholders of the company,"
Jim Stride, head of UK equities at AXA Investment Managers
, said on Wednesday.
AXA Investment Managers UK said it had a 0.9 percent stake
in AstraZeneca, although the overall AXA Group has a larger
Thomson Reuters data shows a holding for AXA of 4.5 percent
as of the end of January.
"Many shareholders - but not necessarily all - will find
this an attractive offer. Accordingly we believe that the board
was arguably wrong and acted too hastily to dismiss the latest
proposal from Pfizer," Stride added.
Meanwhile Threadneedle, which is the fifteenth biggest
shareholder with a 1.39 percent stake, said it supported
AstraZeneca's decision to reject Pfizer's proposal.
"As long-term investors in AstraZeneca, we continue to
support the board's stance on the Pfizer offer. We feel the full
implications of the proposed acquisition have not been
sufficiently understood and addressed by Pfizer," a spokeswoman
for Threadneedle said.
"The company has made notable progress under (Chief
Excecutive) Pascal Soriot and is a strong, stand-alone UK
business with a good product pipeline."
($1 = 0.5935 British Pounds)
(Reporting By Jemima Kelly; Editing by Chris Vellacott and