Prime Minister David Cameron said he would intervene "to back British jobs" in the mooted acquisiton of AstraZeneca by US firm Pfizer.
But he would not be drawn on committing to a public interest test in the deal, after his spokesman said he backed such an examination.
"The assessment I want is from the business department on this deal, or indeed - because there isn't now an actual offer on the table - any subsequent offer," said Mr Cameron.
Pfizer has until Monday until it admits defeat in bidding for AstraZeneca. But after the shenanigans of the past few days we cannot be sure.
AstraZeneca's share price is tumbling back down to earth after the board rejected a "final" Pfizer bid. So is the takeover really over?
Sweden's Finance Minister says the Government should be "very, very sceptical" about any promises the US pharmaceutical giant makes.