AstraZeneca prowling Europe for small deals

AstraZeneca has its eyes peeled for small prey. If Pfizer hunted the wooly mammoth in Wyeth, then AstraZeneca is more interested in chasing after something one-tenth that size. Sabre-toothed tiger, maybe?

CEO David Brennan (photo) uses less colorful language; he's looking at "some smaller companies that appear to be coming up for sale in Europe," according to the Wall Street Journal. Namely, companies in the region worth, say, $4 billion to $6.7 billion, more or less.

One potential target, at least according to recent rumors: Solvay's pharma unit, which could be on its way to the sales block. The Belgian company is said to be considering options for its drug operations, but there's no definitive word yet on what those options include. Sanofi-Aventis has reportedly been wooing Solvay already. Brennan says he doesn't know whether the unit will come up for sale or not--but doesn't deny that he might be interested if it does.

Brennan does say that he expects his acquisitions to beef up AstraZeneca's late-stage pipeline in the disease areas it's prioritizing, which are cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation.

- read the WSJ story

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