AstraZeneca: It ain't over until the 26th...

There clear blue sky between the current £44 and the £55 a share offer AstraZeneca deemed inadequate. Credit: Dan Kitwood/PA

By Joel Hills: Business Editor

48 hours ago the Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca looked dead in the water. A "last and final" bid had been rejected, Pfizer's only hope lay in shareholders rising up and forcing the board of AstraZeneca to reverse the decision they had made.

On the day I interviewed Leif Johansson, he admitted shareholder views were divided but he was "as confident as I can be" that the balance of opinion was on the board's side

Important voices (Investor AB, Aberdeen Asset Management and Neil Woodford) immediately restated their loyalty.

Jupiter and Axa expressed their fury but even they conceded that the takeover had probably unravelled.

Since then a number of other shareholders have gone public with their views.

Yesterday, Schroders expressed its "disappointment" and urged management to "recommence their engagement with Pfizer".

Overnight the Wall Street Journal reported that Legal and General, which holds 3.5% stake in AstraZeneca, had written the board asking it to start talking, so too had Schafer Cullen Capital Management

Meanwhile Fidelity said it felt Pfizer was not a "suitable partner" for AstraZeneca and Threadneedle has also expressed reservations about the takeover.

Pfizer has twice set out its understanding that despite their offer being "final" there is some room for manoeuvre should AstraZeneca change its mind and decide to recommend the offer.

AstraZeneca has also made it clear that's not going to happen - Pfizer has tied its own hands, particularly when it comes to price, there's nothing to talk about.

Read more: Is Pfizer's pursuit of AstraZeneca finally over?

AstraZeneca's shareprice has risen slightly today but there's clear blue sky between the current price of £44 and the £55 a share offer AstraZeneca deemed inadequate.

AstraZeneca's shareprice rose slightly today on the stock market.

In theory, Pfizer has until Monday until it formally admits defeat and walks away.

The stock market view is obvious: this deal is off. But the shenanigans of the past few days suggests until Monday 26th comes and goes we cannot be sure.

Read more: AstraZeneca rejects £69bn offer from US drug giant Pfizer