UK/US: Rejected Pfizer bid hammers riff between AstraZeneca shareholders

AstraZeneca’s decision not to engage in possible merger discussions with pharmaceutical rival Pfizer even after an offer upped to $119 billion has caused a riff between AstraZeneca shareholders, reports say.

Significant shareholders of the UK pharmaceutical firm have voiced both their opposition and support for such a merger Wednesday after AstraZeneca said earlier this week that the $119 billion offer still undercut the company’s value.

Amid the controversy, AstraZeneca later announced that under competition law it cannot consider a higher bid from Pfizer unless a rival bidder steps forward.

AZA Group’s UK investment unit, which owns less than 1 percent of the UK company, said the merger should be put up for a vote among shareholders. Legal & General, which owns a larger portion of the company, has reportedly also supported a shareholder vote of the matter.

Some investors, however including Threadneedle Asset Management, support AstraZeneca’s denial of the Pfizer takeover offer.

While AstraZeneca has denied Pfizer’s latest and final bid, the US company still has until Monday to decide whether to forfeit its takeover efforts for good.

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