Two of the UK’s biggest health care companies, AstraZeneca and Smith & Nephew, will be pushed into the spotlight again this week as bidding restrictions on their former suitors expire.
After a six-month cooling off period, US drugmaker Pfizer will be able to approach AstraZeneca again, while the American orthopaedic company Stryker will also be allowed to return for hip and knee replacement maker Smith & Nephew.
Stryker is understood to be still keen but unlikely to return immediately after the takeover deadline ends on Friday. It is expected to return next year.
Stryker is under pressure to do a deal as its orthopaedic rivals, Zimmer, Biomet and Johnson & Johnson have already struck their own blockbuster deals.
However, sources have called the Pfizer-AstraZeneca situation “dead” and said the US drugmaker is now focused on other opportunities. Pfizer was said to have turned its attentions to rival US drugmaker Actavis, but Actavis bulked up with its $66bn acquisition of Allergan. The Swiss biotech company Actelion has also been on its radar.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s share price has risen on the back of a boost in its pipeline, making it unlikely that Pfizer would be able to afford the group, particularly now the tax benefits of a deal have been complicated by new US Treasury rules.
Takeover Panel rules require bidders to walk away for six months after a failed bid, but few return. The last occasion was in 2001 when French industrial group Lafarge returned for UK cement maker Blue Circle.
By Ashley Armstrong