AstraZeneca rejects Pfizer’s takeover bid

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on Friday flatly rejected drugmaker Pfizer’s sweetened takeover bid — worth $106 billion — just hours after it was leveled, describing the offer as inadequate.

After being rebuffed twice, Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, made its third attempt for the London-based rival, offering $84 a share in cash and stock, a 7.3 increase on its last bid. The deal would be the biggest-ever foreign takeover of a British business.

But AstraZeneca’s board said the terms were not right and the price substantially undervalued the company. The Anglo-Swedish firm said the potentially lucrative “pipeline” of new drugs it is developing would be disrupted by a takeover and its possible consequences.

“Pfizer’s proposal would dramatically dilute AstraZeneca shareholders’ exposure to our unique pipeline and would create risks around its delivery,” said Leif Johansson, the chairman of AstraZeneca. “As such, the board has no hesitation in rejecting the proposal.”

— Associated Press

News Corp. agrees to acquire Harlequin

News Corp. sees profit potential in the tales of princes, sexy soldiers and mysterious millionaires.

The publishing company controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch said Friday that it has agreed to buy romance novel publisher Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. for $415 million in cash.

Harlequin will become a division of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers subsidiary and remain based in Toronto.

Founded in 1949, Harlequin publishes its steamy tales in 34 languages and sells them in more than 100 international markets. Its titles include the works of more than 1,300 authors, and it releases more than 110 titles each month.

News Corp. said the deal will extend HarperCollins’s global reach, especially in Europe and Asia Pacific. About 40 percent of Harlequin’s revenue comes from books published in languages other than English. Ninety-nine percent of HarperCollins books are published in English.

For 2013, Harlequin’s revenue totaled $372 million. About 95 percent of its revenue comes from outside Canada.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

— From news services