LONDON May 7 Pfizer sought to allay
fears that its proposed $106 billion takeover of AstraZeneca
would deal a blow to drug research, saying the new
company would bolster innovative science and speed the
development of new treatments.
The deal would be the largest foreign takeover of a British
company and has raised fears that resulting cost cutting would
see the loss of thousands of skilled jobs, undermining the UK's
AstraZeneca, Britain's second-largest drugs company, has
rejected successive approaches from its larger American rival.
As political opposition to the plan grew, Pfizer reiterated
its commitment to the deal, posting a graphic on its website
that touted the benefits of a merger.
It said the combined group would be able to expand its
global research, speed up the development of treatments and
broaden its footprint in emerging markets.
A combined Pfizer-AstraZeneca would be the world's largest
pharmaceuticals business and save Pfizer billions of dollars in
taxes by shifting its domicile to Britain, although it would
still be run out of New York.
In a mounting war of words, Pfizer quoted the former
chairman and CEO of AstraZeneca rival GlaxoSmithKline,
Richard Sykes, saying the deal was a "fantastic opportunity" and
"Pfizer are serious and they've got a lot of money to spend".
But British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing growing
pressure from lawmakers to secure promises about jobs, research
and intellectual property. On Tuesday, Business Secretary Vince
Cable said the government could use its public interest powers
to intervene in the deal.
On Tuesday, AstraZeneca laid out its defence strategy,
touting its strong long-term growth potential as an independent
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)