On spree, Pfizer looks to buy AstraZeneca

Associated Press


Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. is continuing its shopping spree with its fourth acquisition since the April collapse of its planned $160 billion megadeal to buy rival Allergan PLC and move its headquarters, on paper, to Allergan’s base in lower-tax Ireland.

In its second deal this week, New York-based Pfizer said it is buying rights to Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC’s portfolio of approved and experimental antibiotic and antifungal pills, a move to boost Pfizer’s business in one of its priority areas. The deal is valued in excess of $1.5 billion, including rights to sell the medicines in most countries outside the U.S., royalties and other payments.

The acquisition indicates a thawing of relations between the two companies barely two years after London-based AstraZeneca fought off Pfizer’s hostile-takeover attempt.

Pfizer had planned that $119 billion acquisition as a so-called “tax inversion” enabling Pfizer to slash its U.S. tax bill by moving its nominal headquarters – but not its corporate offices or executives – to England.

The tax-inversion strategy had been hot in corporate America for a few years, but it’s cooled down since the U.S. Treasury Department in April issued new tax rules to block the biggest U.S. drugmaker from becoming a corporate citizen of Ireland.