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Going hostile: The role of the CFO in a takeover

Zone(s): Worldwide ¦ Sector(s): Corporate Finance
[13 June 2014, Financial Director] Bracing for a takeover attempt requires the FD to focus on value, with plenty of risk management thrown in for good measure, writes Graham Jarvis. US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s recent attempt to take over another major player in the industry, AstraZeneca, shows how easy it is for a deal to fail.

Having spent a month out in the open after making public its desire to buy the British drugmaker, Pfizer was unable to clear enough hurdles to push the deal through. Concern that the transaction was merely a tax mitigation exercise certainly didn’t help matters, while AstraZeneca’s board was stubborn in its call for a higher price to be set – one that would incorporate its future pipeline of medicine.

Emotional baggage
Robert Beveridge, a former CFO and non-executive director, says that the saga has created a lot of emotion, some of it negative. In spite of this, he expects there will be some re-engagement of communication with AstraZeneca’s board “in the future, at some point”. He believes that the 57% premium of the final offer was a high price and says it was brave of AstraZeneca to decline it. Nevertheless, there has to be some mutual benefit and understanding about how the transaction would add value to both companies.

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