COPENHAGEN May 13 Sweden's finance minister
labelled U.S. drugmaker Pfizer's proposed $106 billion
offer for drugs firm AstraZeneca as "tax-driven" on
Tuesday and warned that jobs would be lost if it went through.
AstraZeneca, which was created through a 1999 merger between
Britain's Zeneca and Sweden's Astra, has around 5,900 employees
in Sweden out of about 51,500 globally, according to its
"Now, we know that mergers are complicated and that there is
a big risk that a tax-driven merger will only be beneficial if
you really are tough on cost-cutting and that's not very
beneficial for society," Finance Minister Anders Borg told
reporters in the Danish capital Copenhagen.
"The basic logic of this merger is tax-driven."
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said last week that
he was worried Swedish jobs at AstraZeneca could be lost if
Pfizer succeeds in buying it, news agency TT reported.
Pfizer hinted it could raise its proposed $106 billion offer
if AstraZeneca would only engage in talks, as its boss was
grilled by UK lawmakers on his commitment to British research
spending and jobs on Tuesday.
In response, AstraZeneca's chief executive accused Pfizer of
an "opportunistic" proposal and a ploy to cut taxes that risked
Pfizer says the proposed deal would involve job losses and
result in it paying less tax but argues such things are
necessary to improve efficiency in an industry where governments
are pressuring drug companies to cut costs.
Borg's comments were the second time he has expressed
criticism of the deal, and he repeated a warning that promises
to protect jobs should be taken with a pinch of salt.
"Pfizer have been adding some 120,000 staff members through
mergers over the last 15 years and have cut a hundred thousand
jobs ... on the global market," he said. "So they have a track
record of cutting back jobs."
(Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Pravin Char)