Pfizer and AstraZeneca: Marketing an Acquisition (A)
In 2014, Pfizer proposed a friendly acquisition of AstraZeneca, but the AstraZeneca board resisted over price and strategy concerns. Was this good for pharmaceutical consumers? Pfizer, like pharmaceutical companies in general, faced difficulties in growing sales due to the challenges of developing new drugs. Over the previous decade or more, Pfizer had pursued acquisitions as a way to acquire new drugs, increase sales, and to reduce costs by combining operations and cutting staff. Pfizer, a U.S. company, was also interested in AstraZeneca, a U.K. company, as a way to reduce its corporate taxes. In recent years, AstraZeneca had significantly strengthened its pipeline of potential new drugs and its board felt it was in a strong position to go it alone. The company's CEO also indicated that an acquisition would be disruptive to its drug development efforts and delay new drugs coming to market. U.K. politicians expressed concerns over downsizing and job losses in the economically important pharmaceutical sector. The case allows readers to explore who benefits from a potential acquisition (shareholders, employees, drug consumers) and which of these stakeholders should be considered when deciding on an acquisition.