GSK's Witty has no interest in buying AstraZeneca

Thanks but no thanks. That was GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) CEO Andrew Witty's comeback to the suggestion that maybe GSK should buy AstraZeneca ($AZN).

They are both based in the U.K., and AstraZeneca is thought to be vulnerable, what with its earnings down and its future in question now that the board recently invited CEO David Brennan to make an early exit. Might there not be significant cost savings, suggested an investor at GSK's shareholder meeting, Reuters reports.

But Witty said that kind of a deal would be a distraction at a time when GSK feels good about the prospects of its pipeline of drugs. That reasoning doesn't completely square with GSK's recent $2.6 billion offer for Human Genome Sciences ($HGSI), particularly given that HGS told GSK thanks but no thanks. There may very well be distractions if GSK gets involved in a proxy fight.

And all is not rosy for GSK. This week, German regulators rejected its big-time hope, Benlysta, saying the lupus treatment was too pricey.

And there is always the question of whether megamergers pay off, given the difficulties of braiding together different cultures, workforces and assets. Just the other day, Pfizer ($PFE) CEO Ian Read acknowledged to The New York Times that the company's decade of buying up company after company may not have been the best strategy. It is now trying to get smaller and more focused by selling its animal health and nutrition businesses.

Of course, every company has its own strategy, and Witty in the past has said he does not favor large acquisitions, reminds Reuters.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the NYT piece