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Woodford: Astra right to reject 'opportunistic' Pfizer bid

by Dylan Lobo on May 06, 2014 at 08:13

Woodford: Astra right to reject 'opportunistic' Pfizer bid

Neil Woodford is against Pfizer's swoop on AstraZeneca, describing the £63 billion bid as opportunistic.

Woodford, who said he had spoken to Pfizer chief executive Ian Read in an exclusive Citywire video interview to be released later today, said he believes Astrazeneca should remain a single entity. 

His comments came shortly Astra rejected a second bid from its US rival last Friday, saying it undervalued the firm's prospects.  

Woodford bought into AstraZeneca around five years ago through his Invesco Perpetual Income and High Income funds and remains a holder in the drugs giant via the £3.7 billion St James's Place mandate he recently won.

In a blog Woodford said: 'I have not been surprised to see bid interest in AstraZeneca. The company is undergoing a very significant, value-enhancing transformation and it appears opportunistic for a potential bidder to make an approach now before the full value of this transformation is recognised by the market.

He added: I was also not surprised to see the company decline the initial proposal from Pfizer because I believe it was absolutely right to conclude that it 'significantly undervalued Astrazeneca and its prospects'.

'As shareholders, we will remain close to the situation and are waiting to see how AstraZeneca responds to this morning’s improved bid. We support Pascal Soriot and his team in their current strategy and believe that the company has an exciting future as an independent entity. We expect significant value creation over the next 3 to 5 years as this strategy bears fruit.'

Over the Bank Holiday weekend the Labour government said the bosses of Astra and Pfizer should be called before parliament for questioning and accused the coalition government of 'cheerleading' for Pfizer.

Reports emerging this morning claim Astra has urged the government to stay 'neutral' and that it is set to increase its defence by revealing details on a range of new drugs under development.  

Woodford's vision

Woodford's comments came as he set out plans for his new venture Woodford Investment Management.

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