LONDON/NEW YORK — Pfizer said Monday it abandoned its current attempt to buy AstraZeneca for nearly $118 billion as a deadline approached without a last-minute change of heart by the British drugmaker.
“Following the AstraZeneca board’s rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer for AstraZeneca,” Pfizer said in a short news release.
Pfizer had until 5:00 p.m. May 26 to make a firm offer or walk away, under UK takeover rules. Its decision to quit the stage, at least for now, had been widely expected after AstraZeneca refused its final offer of 55 pounds per share.
The biggest U.S. drugmaker promised it would not go hostile, leaving the fate of what would have been the world’s largest ever drugs merger in the hands of its target, whose board would have needed to make a complete U-turn to get a deal done.
British rules now require an enforced cooling-off period. AstraZeneca could reach out to Pfizer after three months, and Pfizer could take another run at its smaller British rival in six months’ time, whether it is invited back or not.