Drugmaker turns director in push for AstraZeneca deal


Mon, May 12, 2014 - Page 15

Pfizer Inc posted videos online on Saturday in its latest effort to win over critics of its proposed purchase of British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC.

In four videos on Pfizer’s Web site, CEO Ian Read sought to allay concerns that the deal would lead to a loss of stature in science in the UK. He said Pfizer had expanded its research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and envisions pursuing a similar strategy for Britain’s Cambridge, north of London, where many scientists work.

Pfizer has been trying to buy its British rival since January, but has been rebuffed three times.

AstraZeneca has said Pfizer’s latest offer of US$106 billion in cash and stock undervalues the company and that a takeover would disrupt its work on a potentially lucrative pipeline of new drugs.

The proposed deal would be the largest foreign takeover of a British company. It has drawn scrutiny from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic who fear a loss of jobs.

The deal would include Pfizer moving its official domicile — but not its corporate offices — to London. That would reduce Pfizer’s income tax rate, because US rates are considerably higher than those in the UK.

Earlier this month, Pfizer sent a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron promising to keep at least 20 percent of the combined company’s research and development staff in the UK. The letter also called the “golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London” — where the bulk of British scientific research is based — a vital component of the deal.