LONDON May 10 U.S. drug company Pfizer
fought back on Saturday against criticism that its planned
takeover of drugmaker AstraZeneca would damage Britain's
science base by saying UK research was a key reason for its
Chief Executive Ian Read, who is due to appear before two
committees of UK lawmakers on May 13 and 14, said in a video
that his proposed $106 billion deal would be a "win-win" for
society and shareholders.
The planned acquisition would be the largest foreign
takeover of a British company and the government has said it is
looking for further binding commitments from Pfizer to ensure
highly skilled jobs and research work is retained.
Read did not make any fresh pledges in his comments, which
were posted on the U.S. company's website, but stressed that
tapping into AstraZeneca's research and development capacity was
an important reason behind the deal.
"When we looked at AZ, we liked their science. We liked
where their science is being done, which is in the UK, and we
know we have good science in the UK in the Cambridge, Oxford,
London and other universities," he said.
He dismissed suggestions from AstraZeneca's Chief Executive
Pascal Soriot that a merger would be disruptive and could damage
the development of a series of experimental drugs currently in
"The integration of the two scientific bases, in my opinion,
will be very easy," he said, arguing that Pfizer's system gave
substantial autonomy to scientific leaders within specific
Pfizer has already given a five-year commitment to complete
AstraZeneca's new research centre in Cambridge, retain a factory
in the northwestern English town of Macclesfield and put a fifth
of its research staff in Britain if the deal goes ahead.
But the U.S. firm has also said it could adjust its promises
if circumstances change "significantly", prompting demands for
more water-tight pledges.
Britain's finance minister George Osborne said earlier on
Saturday he was ready for "hard negotiation" to ensure Pfizer
stuck to specific promises on jobs and science.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Andrew Heavens)