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AstraZeneca a tricky takeover target after big cancer drug blow

* Lung cancer flop ramps up growth challenge for drugmaker

* AstraZeneca still has novel medicines to attract predators

* But obvious acquirers wary of big deals, political fallout

By Ben Hirschler and Pamela Barbaglia

LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Hurdles ranging from existing commercial tie-ups to politics make drugmaker AstraZeneca a problematic takeover target in the wake of last week's big lung cancer setback that hammered the stock and rekindled takeover talk.

Industry executives and bankers say Pfizer, which failed to buy it for $118 billion in 2014, is unlikely to return, while European rivals Novartis, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are wary of large deals.

Overall, the drugs industry is in "wait and see mode", according to one banking source, who sees no mega-mergers until there is clarity on tax reform in the United States, where a suggested corporate tax holiday could unleash another round of M&A.

AstraZeneca still boasts a pipeline of new drugs that could lure predators - even after the failure of its immunotherapy treatment to curb lung cancer as hoped in the closely watched Mystic trial.

Two other new cancer medicines, Tagrisso and Lynparza, are doing well, while its troubled immunotherapy drug Imfinzi...


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