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LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - The British government needs to be confident that any commitments made by Pfizer in a proposed takeover of AstraZeneca are binding, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Friday.
British pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca has rejected a $106 billion approach from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer for what would be the largest foreign takeover of a British company, but the U.S. firm is expected to continue its pursuit.
The potential deal has stirred up a political storm for Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which has been accused by the opposition Labour party of “cheerleading” Pfizer’s approach and of not protecting British interests.
The government has said it is engaging with both companies to safeguard investment in science research and jobs.
“If you’re going to make commitments as Pfizer have started to do, we need to be confident those commitments are binding,” Clegg said at a Reuters newsmaker event in London. “Our focus is to make sure that if the companies decide to proceed that the commitments that are made as part of that are serious ones, are durable ones, and are ones that will stick.”
Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read has already given a five-year commitment to complete AstraZeneca’s new research centre in Cambridge, retain a factory in Macclesfield, and put a fifth of its research staff in Britain if the deal goes ahead. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn)