LONDON, April 20 U.S. pharmaceutical giant
Pfizer has approached British rival AstraZeneca
to propose a 60 billion pound ($101 billion) takeover, the
Sunday Times reported on Sunday.
The paper said, citing senior investment bankers and
industry sources, that informal conversations about a deal had
taken place between the two firms but that no talks were
currently under way after AstraZeneca resisted the approach.
AstraZeneca is Britain's second-biggest pharmaceuticals
group with a current market valuation of around $80 billion,
compared with Pfizer, which is valued at $193 billion, according
to Thomson Reuters data.
Earnings at AstraZeneca fell 6 percent in the fourth quarter
of 2013, and the drugmaker has said it expects them to keep
falling in 2014 as generic competition to Nexium, its popular
heartburn and ulcer drug, takes a big bite out of U.S. profits
from late May.
AstraZeneca has suffered a dry period in drug discovery in
recent years and badly needs to find new medicines to replace
blockbusters such as Nexium and Crestor, a treatment for high
cholesterol that will lose patent protection in a few years.
Pfizer is facing similar issues with patent expirations on
top-selling drugs such as Viagra and anti-cholesterol treatment
Pfizer's last big acquisition was in 2009, when it bought
U.S. rival Wyeth for $68 billion.
Officials at neither AstraZeneca nor Pfizer could
immediately be reached for comment.
($1 = 0.5949 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; editing by Jane Baird)