Maryland, Delaware governors concerned about Pfizer-Astra deal

Thu May 8, 2014 10:23pm EDT

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

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

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

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(Reuters) - The governors of Maryland and Delaware on Thursday sent a letter to Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) Chief Executive Officer Ian Read "expressing deep concerns" about the pharmaceutical company's bid to acquire London-based AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L).

The letter, from Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, questions the impact of the deal on jobs in both states as well as Pfizer's open interest in relocating its corporate base to Britain to lower its federal taxes.

AstraZeneca employs around 3,100 people in Maryland, and around 2,600 people in Delaware, according to the letter.

AstraZeneca has rejected successive approaches from its larger American rival, which is offering $106 billion for Britain's second-largest drugs company.

In an emailed statement, Pfizer said it has spoken with the two governors and understands and appreciates their concerns.

"We believe this potential combination presents an excellent opportunity to create a leading company in our global industry," Pfizer said. "We believe a potential combination with AstraZeneca would build a stronger company by bringing together our assets, people and scientific expertise to create vibrant businesses with new potential growth and opportunities to meet patients' needs."

In the U.K., the potential deal has also raised fears that resulting cost cutting would see the loss of thousands of skilled jobs, undermining that nation's science base.

To reassure the British government about its proposal, Pfizer has promised the combined company would keep 20 percent of its research and development workforce in the country. It also vowed to complete construction of a research center planned by AstraZeneca in Cambridge, England, and retain a manufacturing plant in the northern town of Macclesfield.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Kenneth Maxwell)

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