AstraZeneca Plc has made a preliminary approach to rival drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. about a potential merger, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be the biggest health-care deal on record.
The U.K.-based firm informally contacted Gilead last month to gauge its interest in a possible tie-up, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. AstraZeneca didn’t specify terms for any transaction, they said. While Gilead has discussed the idea with advisers, no decisions have been made on how to proceed and the companies aren’t in formal talks, the people added.
AstraZeneca, valued at $140 billion, is the U.K.’s biggest drugmaker by market capitalization and has developed treatments for conditions from cancer to cardiovascular disease. Gilead, worth $96 billion at Friday’s close, is the creator of a drug that’s received U.S. approval for use with coronavirus patients.
Gilead is not currently interested in selling to or merging with another big pharmaceutical company, preferring instead to focus its deal strategy on partnerships and smaller acquisitions, the people said. A representative for Gilead declined to comment. A spokesman for AstraZeneca said the company doesn’t comment on “rumors or speculation.”