LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK.L) chief executive declined to comment on Tuesday on a report that Pfizer (PFE.N) had approached the British drugmaker about a possible takeover in recent weeks but was rebuffed.
Pfizer has since decided to focus on a transaction with Dublin-based Allergan (AGN.N) as a way to clinch a large “inversion” deal that will lower the U.S. company’s tax rate through a foreign acquisition.
GSK CEO Andrew Witty told reporters he would not comment on rumors about mergers and acquisitions.
The Financial Times said Pfizer had looked seriously at GSK as a potential target but the U.S. group’s overtures received a cool reception from GSK and the talks were now dead, having never reached the point at which a price was discussed.
Suggestions that Pfizer might look to acquire GSK have been rife for more than a year, following Pfizer's unsuccessful attempt to buy smaller British rival AstraZeneca (AZN.L), which collapsed in May 2014.
Buying GSK, which has a market value of 68 billion pounds ($105 billion), would have been another way for Pfizer to shift its tax domicile from the United States, although many analysts believe a deal with Allergan is a simpler proposition for Pfizer CEO Ian Read.
Pfizer's AstraZeneca bid ran into fierce resistance from the Anglo-Swedish company's management, as well as intense political flak in Britain. An attempt to buy GSK, Britain's biggest drugmaker, could have been even more difficult politically.
Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Jason Neely