Britain’s AstraZeneca has approached US rival Gilead Sciences about a possible merger that would form one the world’s largest drug companies, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday,citing people familiar with the matter.
Any deal would unite two of the companies at the forefront of the industry’s efforts to fight the new coronavirus and could be politically sensitive as governments seek control over potential vaccines or treatments.
AstraZeneca contacted Gilead last month, but the US firm was not interested in combining with another big pharmaceutical company, the Bloomberg report stated.
Gilead, the world’s largest maker of HIV drugs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If combined, the two companies would have a market capitalization of about $232 billion, based on Friday’s closing stock levels.
Two sources familiar with AstraZeneca’s thinking questioned the rationale of a tie-up, telling Reuters Gilead’s remdesivir for COVID-19 patients was insufficient to justify pursuing a multi-billion deal that would detract from AstraZeneca’s work on a coronavirus vaccine.