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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

AstraZeneca approached Gilead Sciences last month about a possible merger, although the two companies aren't currently in formal talks, as first reported by Bloomberg.

Why it matters: This still feels highly unlikely but, if consummated, would be the largest health care merger in history. AstraZeneca has a current market cap of around $140 billion, while Gilead's is $96 billion. It also could portend a rash of pharma deal-talk ahead of treatments or vaccines for COVID-19.

The bottom line: "Most large biopharma deals arise from a position of distress, not strength, and Gilead today is far from distressed," per an SVB Leernik analyst note.

  • "It may suggest that AZN is looking to leverage its valuation and current strategic position by making a large acquisition to diversify away from dependence on its blockbuster oncology franchise."
  • "Other targets, such as perhaps Biogen, Amgen, or Alexion, may be equally suitable for these purposes, and could prove more amenable to overtures."

Go deeper: Wall Street forecasts blockbuster sales for Gilead's coronavirus drug remdesivir

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
28 mins ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.

Biden condemns Russian aggression on 7th anniversary of Crimea annexation

Putin giving a speech in Sevastapol, Crimea, in 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the people of Ukraine and vowed to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in a statement on Friday, the 7th anniversary of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Why it matters: The statement reflects the aggressive approach Biden is taking to Russia, which he classified on the campaign trail as an "opponent" and "the biggest threat" to U.S. security and alliances.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

What's really going on with the labor market

Source: YCharts

The labor market is showing some signs of improvement: Jobless claims fell to 730,000 — a dramatic drop from 841,000 the previous week. And the latest jobs report showed a pandemic-era low unemployment rate of 6.3%

But, but, but: That's not the full story, experts say.