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AstraZeneca Plans Spin-Offs

AstraZeneca announced faster-than-expected progress of its experimental cancer drugs and plans to spin off billions of dollars of non-core assets as it staked a claim for independence following reports of bid interest from Pfizer.The British firm declined to comment on Thursday about a weekend newspaper report it had spurned a 60 billion pound ($101 billion) bid approach from Pfizer earlier this year.Instead, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said he remained focused on sharpening AstraZeneca's portfolio, and as part of that unveiled plans to sell or partner infection and neuroscience units with combined sales of $3.5 billion in 2013.The drugs sector is in the grip of a wave of deal-making as firms strive to build up their best businesses and exit weaker ones, as highlighted by a multibillion-dollar asset swap between Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.AstraZeneca, battling to reverse a slide in profits due to patent losses, also said it would advance four important experimental medicines into l...

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