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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.
"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 holding.
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 Keiron Henderson)