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AstraZeneca a bid target again? CEO says someone may spot value

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014.

AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) chief executive believes a rival could spot the growing value of its drug pipeline but declined to say on Thursday if the group was likely to be a takeover target once more, two years after seeing off a bid from Pfizer (PFE.N).

This time speculation has moved to the idea of a possible offer from Swiss-based Novartis (NOVN.S), which would increase its cancer drug operations significantly by acquiring its smaller British rival. It could also lead to cost savings.

The comments by AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot encouraged talk of another mega-deal in the pharmaceuticals sector, after a run of deal-making by companies seeking promising new medicines. This helped to send AstraZeneca shares to a record high on Thursday, breaching the 50 pound mark for the first time.

Citi analyst Andrew Baum suggested in a note this week that AstraZeneca's biotech expertise and advanced immunotherapy cancer pipeline made it an attractive target for Basel-based Novartis.

AstraZeneca has a current market value of just over $80 billion, while Novartis is worth...


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