Exclusive: 'Back to normal' for AstraZeneca CEO, despite Pfizer rumors

Tue Sep 2, 2014 8:59am EDT
 
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By Ben Hirschler

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Though speculation is rife of a new Pfizer bid, AstraZeneca's chief executive is not holed up with advisers in London or New York. Instead, he has spent the last three days immersed in heart science in Barcelona.

"The only thing I can tell you is I am here - and imagine where I would be if something was happening!" Pascal Soriot told Reuters on the sidelines of the European Society of Cardiology congress, the world's largest heart meeting.

Strict British takeover rules limit what Soriot and other players can say about Pfizer's abortive attempt to buy AstraZeneca and the possibility of a resumption of talks.

But chatter among investors that Pfizer will come back has boosted shares in Britain's second biggest drugmaker more than 10 percent since the middle of last month, and the ending of the first of a two-stage cooling-off period on Aug. 26.

While Pfizer cannot launch another public bid until late November, AstraZeneca can now invite it back for talks and Pfizer also has one shot at making a private approach.

Although the saga may not be over, Soriot remains adamant AstraZeneca has a strong independent future.

"We are making good progress with the pipeline and everything so far – touch wood – is going in the right direction," he said. "We’re back to normal."

Soriot has spent his time in Barcelona focused on the heart drug Brilinta, which AstraZeneca flagged as worth a potential $3.5 billion-a-year in a strategy update that formed a central plank of its defense against Pfizer.   Continued...

 
Chief Executive of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot leaves after appearing at a commons science committee hearing at Portcullis House in London May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor