US, British lawmakers wary of Pfizer's bid to buy AstraZeneca
10 May 2014
US drugmaker Pfizer Inc is under growing political pressure at home and in Britain as speculation mounts on whether it will sweeten its buyout offer for British company AstraZeneca.
Late this week, two US governors pressed Pfizer about the impact on jobs in their states, while a US senator called for an overhaul of the tax code to discourage deals like Pfizer is pursuing, which would move the new company`s headquarters to Britain, avoiding paying billion of dollars in US taxes.
Pfizer, the world`s largest pharmaceutical company, also faces tough questions in Britain, where officials fear the deal could erode the country`s research base.
Next week Pfizer chief executive Ian Read will testify before a parliamentary panel in his second trip to London since launching the AstraZeneca campaign on 28 April.
So far, AstraZeneca has said the proposals, the latest for $106-billion made a week ago, "substantially" undervalues the company and do not merit entering merger talks. British regulators have set 26 May as the deadline for Pfizer to either raise its bid, launch a hostile takeover or abandon the effort.
In a joint letter to Read, the governors of Maryland and Delaware cited a pledge from Pfizer to British officials to keep 20 per cent of the combined company`s research and development staff in Britain.
"We are concerned because, despite our requests, we have received no corresponding assurances about retaining jobs and research and development in our states," said Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.
"Our concern is exacerbated by Pfizer`s history of closing US research facilities, including sites in Michigan and Illinois, after closing on previous corporate transactions."
Pfizer has about 3,100 employees in Maryland and 2,600 in Delaware.
"Pfizer has spoken with the governors and we understand and appreciate their concerns," a Pfizer spokesman told AFP, without providing further details.