The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to 334.13, with AstraZeneca shares rocketing up 14.4% after Pfizer said it made a second attempt to talk to the company about a merger ”in light of recent market developments,” but AstraZeneca declined to engage. The jump left AstraZeneca shares up nearly 31% this year, and was the largest on record for the company, according to FactSet data.
Pfizer’s first offer was valued at nearly $100 billion, and a deal for that amount would mark the largest takeover of a U.K. firm by a foreign company.
AstraZeneca said it believes in its strategy as an independent company, while Pfizer said it‘s “confident a combination is capable of being consummated.“
Meanwhile, Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC shares slumped 2.3% after the company said it’s in talks to buy Merck & Co.’s consumer-health business. “We understand that we are part of a competitive process. There is absolutely no certainty as to the outcome or timing of this process,” the company said in a statement.
Shire PLC ranked high among the FTSE’s gainers, with the drug maker rising 2.4%. Last week, reports emerged that Shire rejected a takeover approach from Botox maker Allergan is now being pursued by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in partnership with activist investor William Ackman.
Oil and gas producer BG Group PLC offered a downbeat output view and said its Chief Executive Chris Finlayson will resign, effective immediately, for personal reasons. But its shares managed to dig out of the red and close up 0.1%.
Developments in Ukraine remained in view as the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions against Russia, saying Russia didn’t hold up its end of an April 17 deal aimed at de-escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine. The latest sanctions target seven Russian officials and 17 companies the U.S. says are linked to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.