UK finance minister ready for 'hard negotiation' with Pfizer

Sat May 10, 2014 6:06am EDT
 
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is ready for "hard negotiation" to ensure Pfizer sticks to specific promises on jobs and science under the U.S. drugmaker's proposed takeover of AstraZeneca, its finance minister said.

"I think it would be extraordinary not to engage with AstraZeneca or Pfizer," George Osborne told BBC radio on Saturday.

He stressed Britain was an open economy that had benefited "enormously" from past investment by foreign companies, such as Tata Motors and Nissan in the car industry, and AstraZeneca itself had grown by taking over foreign firms.

Although the country's second-biggest drugmaker AstraZeneca has rejected a $106 billion approach from Pfizer in what would be the largest foreign takeover of a British company, the U.S. group is expected to continue its pursuit.

Osborne said there was there was "a lot of speculation about another bid coming".

Pfizer is currently weighing its next move, which could be a higher offer next week.

"We are an open economy, we benefit from that. But our national economic interest when it comes to a very big takeover like this is who's going to be providing the science and the jobs and the manufacturing," Osborne said.

Pfizer's past record of cutting jobs after swallowing smaller rivals such as Wyeth, Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia has stirred up a political storm and fuelled concerns among scientists about the impact of any deal on British science.   Continued...

 
The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly