AstraZeneca would be a 'scientific powerhouse' for Britain if merger goes ahead, says Pfizer

The evidence submitted to MPs this morning broadly restates Pfizer's case for why its bid for AstraZeneca should be allowed to proceed, while also underlining its view that Britain is much more than simply an attractive destination to pay tax.

Pfizer said it does not 'asset-strip'companies it acquires Credit: PA Wire

Pfizer argues that the creation of a new "scientific powerhouse" would be of benefit to patients, shareholders around the world and in Britain in particular.

Pfizer argues it does not asset-strip, it "innovates", it says. The company acknowledges its interest in AstraZeneca's "exciting pipeline" of drugs but suggests that without Pfizer's support it will struggle to invest the money necessary to realise its potential.

Pfizer's chief executive Ian Read has said he values AstraZeneca's strong UK presence Credit: Pfizer

This view is unlikely to amuse AstraZeneca's chief executive, Ian Read, who has previously suggested that the risk of failure he saw was the "distraction" of a takeover.

Labour says the promises Pfizer has made about continuing to operate in the UK are "not worth the paper they are written on". Pfizer argues that it they are unprecedented and, under the current version of the UK Takeover Code, "binding as a matter of English law."

The company says it intends to complete AstraZeneca's new "innovation hub" in Cambridge, that the site in Macclesfield will be retained, that "key scientific leadership" will be based here and that for the next five years at least, 20 per cent of the combined company’s total research and development workforce "will be located in the UK".

MPs on the business committee appear sceptical that Pfizer would remain dedicated to AstraZeneca in its current form Credit: Press Association Images

Pfizer wants us to believe it would be as committed to a site in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire as it is to its existing site in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sure, its head has been turned by our tax regime but it's British talent and our dedication to science that will ensure this relationship endures.

MPs I have spoken to on the Business Innovation and Skills Committee are deeply sceptical. Tomorrow should be interesting.

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