STOCKHOLM, May 15 (Reuters) - Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said on Thursday he was ready to meet management of U.S. drug firm Pfizer about its bid to buy British rival AstraZeneca, which has sizable operations in Sweden.
Borg, as well as Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and opposition leader Stefan Lofven fear the $106 billion bid would lead to job losses in Sweden. Astra, which has rejected the bid, employs some 5,900 people in Sweden.
“It’s up to them if they want to get in touch with us. We don’t want to lend legitimacy to their bid,” Borg told reporters. “But if they contact us, we would of course see them and hear what they have to say.”
Enterprise Minister Annie Loof told Swedish television that she would have met Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read on Thursday in Sweden but that he had cancelled the meeting.
Pfizer management had declined an invitation from the Social Democratic party to participate in a hearing in Sweden’s parliament on its plans for Astra’s production and research in Sweden, Mikael Damberg, a Social Democratic lawmaker, told news agency TT.
Earlier this week Pfizer’s CEO faced two days of parliamentary questioning in Britain, where the firm has promised to keep a fifth of its combined research staff for five years if the deal goes through.
Pfizer has made no such commitments regarding staff in Sweden. (Reporting by Johan Sennero; Writing by Sven Nordenstam; Editing by Mark Heinrich)