AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot has got his Pfizer retaliation in first

AstraZeneca may be morphing into a company that concentrates on its strengths, but its profits profile needs attention

AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot started with the standard disclaimer that he couldn’t possibly comment on any past or future takeover approach from Pfizer or anyone else. Fair enough. Then, without joining any dots, he offered a series of reasons why his shareholders would be crazy to sell their firm at this time for a conventional takeover premium of 20% or so.

Takeovers in general? "Sometimes they can work, but often they are very disruptive," he said. How about an invigorating Glaxo/Novartis-style asset trade? He sounded keen. His rivals had found a "win-win" deal and he might have something up his own sleeve for AstraZeneca’s small neuroscience and infection divisions. "We are exploring a variety of options" and "we can’t do everything ourselves".

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