* Lawmakers want to protect research and jobs in UK
* Planned $100 bln bid would be biggest ever of a UK firm
* Pfizer unable to commit on jobs or investment
(Adds FT report on David Cameron's representatives in talks)
By Kylie MacLellan and Ben Hirschler
LONDON, April 30 British lawmakers intend to
investigate U.S. drugmaker Pfizer's planned $100 billion
takeover of British rival AstraZeneca in a bid to ensure
scientific research and jobs are protected.
Members of the parliamentary business, innovation and skills
committee are worried that the deal, which would be the
biggest-ever foreign acquisition of a British company, could
threaten the country's strategic interests.
"We are keen to look closely at it," committee member Ann
McKechin told Reuters.
"We will see how events pan out over the next few days, but
clearly given the scale of the proposed merger it is important
that we consider the impact not just on shareholders but also on
employees and the wider interests of the UK."
AstraZeneca, Britain's second-biggest drugmaker behind
GlaxoSmithKline, is an important part of the life
sciences sector and employs nearly 7,000 staff in the country.
The committee's chairman Andrew Bailey said it would be
looking to hold an inquiry "pretty quickly", and those called to
give evidence were likely to include ministers such as Business
Secretary Vince Cable and representatives from the Treasury.
The British government has so far adopted a neutral stance
on the matter, with finance minister George Osborne saying any
deal between the two companies would be a commercial matter.
"The line that this is a straightforward commercial issue
that the government has no role in is too laid back," said
Bailey. "In AstraZeneca we have a company that amounts to 2.3
percent of our total exports, is a world leader in research in
pharmaceuticals and is very strategically positioned in this
Committee member Katy Clark said Pfizer's management would
also probably be among those called to any inquiry.
The Financial Times, citing a senior Whitehall official,
reported late on Wednesday that Prime Minister David Cameron had
appointed two of his most senior officials to lead government
negotiations with Pfizer on his behalf. (link.reuters.com/cuc98v)
Politicians are wary of foreign takeovers in the light of
Kraft's 2010 acquisition of Cadbury, when the U.S. food
group promised to keep open a key factory, only to go back on
the pledge soon after the deal was completed.
"The committee previously had a great deal of concern over
the Cadbury takeover, so I think this is one we will really have
to closely analyse what is on offer," McKechin said.
Pfizer already has a tarnished reputation in Britain after
it announced plans in 2011 to shut a major drug research site in
Sandwich, southern England, where Viagra was invented, with the
loss of nearly 2,000 jobs.
The U.S. firm says it views Britain as an attractive
location for both pharmaceutical research and manufacturing -
helped by recent government tax incentives - but cannot make any
firm commitments on future investment or jobs.
Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read is in Britain to lobby
politicians and investors about the company's plans. Despite the
government's neutral stance, behind the scenes officials are
warning Pfizer against making draconian research job cuts,
industry sources said.
Pfizer has made two approaches to AstraZeneca, both of which
have been rebuffed. The company is widely expected to come back
with a revised offer before a May 26 deadline for it to "put up
or shut up" under UK takeover rules.
(Additional reporting by William James in London and Richa
Naidu in Bangalore, Editing by David Holmes, Susan Fenton and