The AstraZeneca board has rejected Pfizer’s advances so far, while politicians’ antennae have been twitching over the effect on jobs and Britain’s position in scientific research, amid echoes of Cadbury’s 2010 surrender to a hostile bid from US company Kraft.
Has AstraZeneca's defence been orchestrated well enough to maintain its independence?
How I See It
Neil Bennett, chief executive, Maitland
When running the comms for a bid defence you only have two objectives. The first is to keep the target company independent. The second, when that fails, is to make absolutely sure the bidder pays top dollar – and if possible a price they will regret paying later.
In this vein, AstraZeneca has mounted a spirited defence against Pfizer’s unwanted approach. It is fighting on a number of fronts, regarding financial and public interest, to achieve one of the objectives. It has also moved rapidly, which is critical in any bid battle, and made Pfizer look rather plodding by comparison.
Its attacks are hitting home. There is a growing political clamour for the bid to be blocked, or at least challenged on national interest grounds. And Pfizer has raised its bid once already – only to have it shot down by hostile commentary from investors and the media.
There is a long way to go in this affair. But so far AstraZeneca, and its PR advisers RLM Finsbury, have had the better of it.