Intraday, on Thursday…
© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
Intraday, on Thursday…
Back in the day, hostile takeover battles in the UK were fought, at least partially, through full page adverts in the press.
It was a great money spinner for newspapers and helped fund the growth of business journalism in the 1980s, as a wave of bids were accompanied with bold — and often aggressive — purchased media messages.
But it all got out of hand and the ever-so-sensible Takeover Panel decided to introduce Rule 19.4, which effectively put an end to the practice. (Colleagues think the epic battle over the Forte hotel group in the mid-1990s was the final straw, though we stand to be corrected.)
Moving forward in time to the big takeover battle of today… Read more
The attempt by US drug company Pfizer to buy AstraZeneca, the crown jewel of Britain’s pharmaceutical industry, has prompted entirely predictable reactions.
There is outraged huffing and puffing from the left and from vested interests about the loss of the UK science base. Even the FT has joined in with the pseudo-dirigism more usual in the Guardian or Le Monde, calling for an independent assessment of takeovers which might damage UK science… Read more
The nationalistic bluster around AstraPfizica remains blustery. Here, for example, is London Mayor Boris Johnson:
It would be very important to establish that Pfizer is genuinely committed to R&D in this country. I believe in principle that we should have an open system of markets in this country, but when I look at something like AstraZeneca and I look at an organization of that scale, of its relative importance to the UK economy, the sheer percentage of its money that goes into R&D, I think it is of great importance to Britain.
With that in mind, it’s worth taking a closer look at the experimental drug pipeline AstraZeneca has highlighted in its defence statement. These are the drugs that management expects to deliver an incremental $19bn of sales from 2017 to 2023, equivalent to 10 per cent revenue growth per annum: Read more
Pfizer, the US drugs giant that would like to buy the UK listed AstraZeneca, has promised that it would keep at least a fifth of the enlarged group’s research and development in the UK for five years if it did so, part of a spirited row over the public interest, and one that has prompted MPs to summon executives to a Business Committee hearing at the House of Commons.
Away from questions about the strategic value of a large and half-Swedish pharmaceutical company, the whole idea of corporate assurances of the non-binding contractual variety is an interesting subject, and one where Pfizer has some history, albeit in somewhat different circumstances. Read more
What’s been lighting a fire under Forest Laboratories?
Pascal Soriot doesn’t start as AstraZeneca’s new CEO until Monday, yet everyone seems to know what he should do first: go shopping.
The problems soon to be faced by the former Genentech CEO are well known. AstraZeneca is heading towards the steepest of patent cliffs and has so far failed to find anything in the R&D labs that might cushion its fall. Drugs losing US patent protection by 2015 account for a more than a fifth of its sales, rising to nearly a third of sales by 2019. Recent launches of diabetes and heart disease pills have fallen short and what’s in the late-stage pipeline (arthritis, constipation and gout, since you ask) is considered quite likely to fail. Read more
Takes some gall to sue your industry regulator; alternatively, a state of constant litigation seems to be the fate of the modern AstraZeneca…
AstraZeneca today filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to overturn the FDA’s denial on 7 March 2012 of Citizen Petitions filed by AstraZeneca with regard to SEROQUEL®(quetiapine fumarate) tablets and SEROQUEL XR® (quetiapine fumarate) extended release tablets. Read more
AstraZeneca pledged to buy back $4.5bn of its shares this year as the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group warned of growing pressure on its revenues and unveiled plans to cut 7,300 jobs, the FT reports. The company posted full-year revenues down 2 per cent at constant exchange rates to $33.3bn on the back of nearly $2bn in sales lost to generic competition and $1bn because of government prices. The Wall Street Journal says the company faces a number of crucial patent expiries between 2012 and 2015, including patents for drugs such as Seroquel and Nexium, as well as a loss of patent protection from 2016 onwards for its best-selling drug, Crestor. “While the further expected losses of market exclusivity make for a challenging 2012 outlook, we remain committed to a long-term, focused, R&D-based strategy, and today we have announced further steps to drive productivity in all areas to improve returns on our investment in innovation,” Chief Executive David Brennan said.
US regulators have approved AstraZeneca’s anti-blood clotting medicine Brilinta, the FT reports, while requiring warnings restricting its use, in a boost to the the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical group. The Food and Drug Administration authorised the sale of the medicine, which has already been authorised in Europe but which appeared less effective in a sub-group of US patients in clinical trials. The ambiguous results in the US have triggered scepticism about the likely success of the company with Brilinta – known generically as ticagrelor – to win prescriptions over the rival existing drug, Sanofi-Aventis’ Plavix. Separately, the company on Wednesday pledged to pursue development of an experimental diabetes drug despite its rejection by a group of leading US specialists on Tuesday.
AstraZeneca must face a trial over claims by Arkansas that over sales of its anti-psychotic drug Seroquel to residents covered by the state’s Medicaid programme. Bloomberg reports Circuit Judge Chris Piazza in Little Rock ruled that the drug company must face a lawsuit in 2012, which seeks $5,000 for every prescription of the drug written in Arkansas over 11 years. A spokesman said AstraZeneca was confident it would be “fully vindicated as the case progresses”. It has agreed to almost $1bn worth of settlements with the US government and 37 states over the marketing of Seroquel for treating dementia, depression, and anxiety.
The UK’s Medical Research Council is in advanced talks with Chinese authorities to attract up to £500m in investment to the UK over the next five years in an innovative partnership that could save 850 scientific jobs. The FT says discussions centre on a new drug development company that would salvage employment at British pharmaceutical research facilities earmarked for closure. Dave Tapolczay, head of MRC Technology, the commercial arm of the UK research funding body, said the talks could be finalised as soon as Friday. Talks are focused on hiring specialists from sites including AstraZeneca’s Charnwood operations, Pfizer’s Sandwich plant and Merck’s Newhouse facility in Scotland, all being shut with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
AstraZeneca is in final talks to sell Astra Tech, the Swedish healthcare and dental business, to Dentsply International in a deal that could value the group at about $1.8bn, the FT reports. The US dental equipment maker has outbid other potential buyers, including private equity group EQT Partners and medical company Biomet, and has been granted exclusivity in the negotiations in recent days, several people familiar with the situation said. A deal could be announced as early as this week.
About 20 bidders are preparing offers for all or parts of Astra Tech, the dental and medical devices unit that Sweden’s AstraZeneca hopes could fetch $2bn, reports Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter. Astra Tech, which had revenues last year of $535m, is the world’s third-biggest dental implant maker and also sells medical devices, focusing on urology. Parent AstraZeneca, which first flagged the sale in November, has sent “information memorandums” to a medtech companies and private equity firms, and requested preliminary bids in March. An initial screening weeded out dozens of other potential bidders. But many suitors may only be interested in one of the two arms, and AstraZeneca has invited bids for either arm or for the whole business, the people said.
AstraZeneca is seeking a buyer for its Astra Tech business, which makes dental implants and other medical devices, for as much as $2bn, reports the FT. JPMorgan has been appointed to help AstraZeneca manage the sale and has started contacting potential buyers. The divestment marks the latest push by the Anglo-Swedish pharma group to generate cash amid patent expiries and efforts to refocus on core drug development activities. Bloomberg adds that AstraZeneca also wants to sell a chain of US outpatient cancer centres, Aptium Oncology, and sees buyout funds as potential suitors.
The SEC on Wednesday charged a former hedge fund manager with making a $14m profit based on inside information ahead of a takeover in 2007, reports the FT. Stephen Goldfield profited from illegal trading ahead of the $15.6bn takeover of MedImmune, the US biotech business, by Anglo-Swiss group AstraZeneca, the SEC alleged in a federal court filing. His friend, James Self, an executive with Merck, which made an unsuccessful bid for the company, agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. The WSJ adds that the case, while small, reflects how the SEC is using more than outsider tips to track down insider trading.