Pfizer Approves $11B Stock Buyback; Reduces Hopes for AstraZeneca Bid

The board of directors of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) recently approved a new $11 billion stock buyback program, an addition to the remaining $1.3 billion to its current authorization to repurchase shares.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) also declared a $0.26 per share dividend on its common stock for the fourth quarter. The dividend will be payable on December 2 to shareholders on record at the close of business on November 7.

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Market observers suggested that the decision the board directors of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) to continue its shares repurchase program reduced hopes for a new bid to acquire AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN).

AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer’s takeover bid

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) offered to acquire AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) for $119 billion. The British pharmaceutical company rejected the proposal for the second time citing the reason that it was inadequate, and it would dilute shareholder’s value.

“The financial and other terms described in the Proposal are inadequate, substantially undervalue AstraZeneca and are not a basis on which to engage with Pfizer. The board has rejected the Proposal,” said AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) last May.

The United States government recently introduced new tax rules, which diminished the hopes of investors for a new bid for AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN). American companies will now face more challenges to transfer their tax bases in other countries with lower cost jurisdictions under the new rules, which Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) intends to do in case it acquired AstraZeneca.

Pfizer continues to seek transactions

Although investors perceived that Pfizer’s new shares repurchase program as another blow to a potential new bid, Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at ISI Group commented that they should not see it that way. According to him, “We cannot and should not necessarily make that read-across.”

Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) previously stated that the U.S. pharmaceutical company continues to seek transactions.

Last month, there had been reported that the Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) approached Actavis plc (NYSE:ACT) for a potential acquisition as it continues to look for ways to reduce its tax payment while increasing its product pipeline.