Pfizer's attempt to gain control of U.K. pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca through a £69.4 billion ($110 billion) bid in May would have run aground on changes to U.S. tax inversion laws, the chief executive of AstraZeneca has told CNBC.
"We were worried about the tax inversion risk – in fact it has become a reality. If we had agreed to a deal at the time, probably that deal would have fallen apart by now, just like the AbbVie/Shire deal, and created enormous destruction and disruption in our company," Soriot told CNBC in an exclusive interview.
AbbVie's $54 billion offer for Shire was withdrawn in October after U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced new rules aimed at stopping inversion-related deals. The controversial tax strategy involves companies moving their headquarters to another country to avoid paying U.S. tax on overseas income. Pfizer planned to move its corporate headquarters to the U.K. if it had been successful in its bid for AstraZeneca during the summer.
There has been some speculation Pfizer may come back with a further bid, after a cooling-off period imposed by the U.K.'s Takeover Panel expired on November 26. AstraZeneca's share price, which had been at around £37 per share before the first reports of a Pfizer approach emerged, closed at £47.20 on Thursday – still far below the £55 per share Pfizer originally put on the table.