Britain says may use public interest test in Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca

LONDON Tue May 6, 2014 11:02am EDT

LONDON May 6 (Reuters) - Britain could use its powers to assess whether U.S. drugmaker Pfizer's potential takeover of British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca is in the public interest, Business Secretary Vince Cable said on Tuesday.

"The government must and will approach it from a position of even-handed neutrality and recognise that this is ultimately a matter for the shareholders of both companies," Cable told parliament.

"One of our options as the government would be to consider using our public interest test powers. This would be a serious step and not one that would be taken lightly but I'm open-minded about it whilst stressing that we are operating within serious European legal constraints." (Reporting by William James and Sarah Young, editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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