US drug company Pfizer has said it will make a legally binding commitment to support UK jobs in the science industries if its proposed £63bn takeover of UK firm AstraZeneca is approved by the UK Government, reports the BBC.
It emerged last week that Pfizer was considering a $106bn deal to take over the UK based pharmaceutical firm, to create the world’s largest pharmaceutical firm.
Pfizer announced a £50-per-share bid for AstraZeneca around ten days ago, claiming that its aim was to create a ‘UK-based’ international powerhouse.
However, the news of the bid was met with deep concern among commentators and politicians concerned that Pfizer’s real aim was either to move science jobs out of the UK, or to benefit by creating a tax haven in the UK.
Pfizer has responded by submitting reports to two UK parliamentary committees in which it reaffirms that promises made in the bid documentation would be legally binding, committing Pfizer over the next five years to maintaining science jobs in the UK.
Pfizer have said that their promises would be binding in UK law. They have undertaken to maintain 1/5th of the company’s research and development workforce in the UK. This would include the completion of AstraZeneca’s current plan to move to a new R&D site in Cambridge, and to retain factories in Macclesfield and elsewhere.
However, concern remains, with the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, expressing the concern he has encountered in the wider business community when discussing the deal.
“There are grave concerns in the business community about this transaction. I’m yet to talk to anyone in the sector who has anything other than reservations about this deal,” he said.
Conservative peer and former business secretary Lord Heseltine said that the UK needed stronger laws to protect key UK industries from takeovers of this kind.
It is thought that Pfizer will now proceed to extend its offer to around £55-per-share.
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