AstraZeneca’s Indian arm asks for more information from parent on delisting offer

AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd, the domestic arm of the British-Swedish drug maker, said its board of directors has asked for additional information from the foreign parent on its voluntary delisting offer.

“After discussion, it was decided to seek additional information from the promoter—AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals AB, Sweden (AZP AB). Pending receipt of such additional information, consideration of the promoter's letter dated March 1, 2014 was deferred,” the company announced in a stock exchange release.

Early this week, the global drug maker made an open offer to delist the Indian arm. At present, AstraZeneca owns 75 per cent of the total paid-up share capital of AstraZeneca Pharma.

AstraZeneca Pharma scrip, which had shot up 20 per cent to hit the upper circuit limit immediately following the news on Monday, sank after the board said its approval to the offer has been deferred. It closed at Rs 1,173.65 a share, down over 5 per cent on the BSE in a strong Mumbai market on Wednesday.

Although seeking additional information may not result in a roadblock for the open offer, the local subsidiary’s board asking for more clarity is unusual in tightly run structure of MNCs.

This comes just a month after SEBI tightened corporate governance rules for listed firms giving more say to independent directors.

Going by the current market price, buying 25 per cent stake from the public shareholders would cost the Sweden-headquartered promoter around Rs 733 crore ($120 million).

In another big open offer, which started last month, global drug maker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) is looking to raise its holding in its Indian pharma arm GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd from 50.7 per cent to 75 per cent in what may cost it up to Rs 6,386 crore or a little over $1 billion.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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