CITY investment banks could be in line for a $240m (£143m) jackpot after America’s biggest drug company confirmed it had reignited bid talks with its UK rival, opening the door for the largest ever foreign takeover of a British company.
Pfizer, which makes drugs like Viagra and Centrum, unveiled an audacious bid to buy AstraZeneca, in a deal that could cost more than $100bn (£65bn).
The deal is the latest in a string of buyouts in pharmaceuticals, with reports emerging last night that botox-maker Allergan could be ready to bid for UK-listed Shire. Allergan itself is the target of a $46bn hostile offer from Valeant and activist investor Bill Ackman, and may seek a tie-up with Shire to fend off its suitors.
Seven banks on the Pfizer-AstraZeneca deal, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, are set to pocket between $200m and $240m if it gets over the line, according to Thomson Reuters, adding to the swelling pot of M&A fees collected on pharma deals so far this year. A record $190bn of tie-ups are now on the table, including GlaxoSmithKline’s deal with Novartis announced last week.And God forbid that UK politicians should interfere with the City's craving for fillthy lucre:
Politicians should only intervene in takeovers if they threaten national security. North Koreans should not be allowed to buy a UK nuclear power station. But such instances are extremely rare; in all other cases, shareholders should have the right to do as they wish with their assets, and that includes being allowed to sell them to whoever is willing to pay the highest price.
Shareholders make lots of mistakes, as do executives. But they make fewer than politicians whenever they attempt to run companies. It’s about incentives (shareholders’ and bosses’ are better aligned to the pursuit of economic efficiency), knowledge (information and know-how is dispersed and better harnessed by markets than planners) and creative destruction (markets encourage it, politicians seek to discourage it, slowing down change, progress and growth).Never mind about the longer term impact on jobs or on the UK's capacity for R and D. Grab the money and run. Jam today and forget about tomorrow.