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AstraZeneca Rises on Reported Talks With Pfizer Over Deal

AstraZeneca Plc rose the most in more than three years after reports over the weekend that Pfizer Inc. discussed acquiring the London-based drugmaker in informal, now-discontinued talks.

AstraZeneca climbed 8 percent to 4,085.5 pence at 8:06 a.m. in London. The intraday increase of as much as 8.5 percent was the biggest since June 2010.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca aren’t currently negotiating, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. One said the talks happened several months ago and there are no plans to resume. The discussions were first reported April 20 by London’s Sunday Times, which said New York-based Pfizer made a tentative approach about a takeover valuing AstraZeneca at more than 60 billion pounds ($101 billion).

If revived, such an acquisition would be among the largest ever in the industry. Pfizer has reorganized its business over the past three years, shuttering some research projects and emphasizing others. A deal with AstraZeneca would add early-stage drugs in a field of cancer treatments that use the body’s own immune cells to recognize and attack cancer.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca both declined to comment. Separately, Novartis AG said today it agreed to buy GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s cancer-drug business for as much as $16 billion, form a consumer-health venture with Glaxo and sell its animal-health operation to Eli Lilly & Co. for $5.4 billion.

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