STOCKHOLM May 16 Owners of drugmaker
AstraZeneca, which has half its roots in Sweden, should
seriously consider rejecting U.S. rival Pfizer's
proposed takeover unless the consequences are mapped out more
clearly, three Swedish government ministers said.
Finance Minister Anders Borg, Enterprise Minister Annie Loof
and Education Minister Jan Bjorklund said in a signed opinion
piece in the Wall Street Journal that Sweden had been reluctant
to agree to EU rules that would require public interest tests
for business deals.
"However, the arguments against such regulation get weaker
when we consider past experiences of non-cooperative
transactions, such as the one Pfizer is currently trying to
accomplish, and the implications they hold for medical
research," the ministers said.
Borg, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and opposition leader
Stefan Lofven have previously expressed fears the $106 billion
approach bid would lead to job losses in Sweden.
AstraZeneca, which employs some 5,900 people in Sweden, has
rejected Pfizer's current offer but the U.S. group is widely
expected to come back with a sweetened bid.
Borg, Loof and Bjorklund said in their article on Friday
that the guarantees offered by Pfizer over retaining research
and jobs in Europe were not sufficient.
"If there is no further clarity regarding the effects of
Pfizer's possible semi-hostile takeover of AstraZeneca, our
conclusion ... is that AstraZeneca's owners should seriously
consider rejecting Pfizer's proposal," the ministers said.
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; editing by Ben Hirschler)