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Pfizer CEO defends push to acquire AstraZeneca

World News | May 12, 2014


Kevin Grogan

Pfizer CEO defends push to acquire AstraZeneca

As he gets ready to sit before parliamentary committees, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read has been speaking about the rationale behind his company's takeover bid for AstraZeneca.

In a series of videos on Pfizer's website, Mr Read has addressed claims principally made on this side of the Atlantic that the deal would result in R&D job losses. He reiterated the company's commitment to building AstraZeneca’s planned research facilities in Cambridge UK, comparing the area to "the hub of innovation" Pfizer has helped create in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Critics have pointed to Pfizer's recent decision to close its facility in Sandwich but he clarified that while the firm decided to "substantially reduce our presence…by the way, we are still open in Sandwich". However, “the areas in which we were doing science were areas that we decided we wanted to exit.

Lower tax so more cash for R&D

Many observers have argued that the proposed deal is being driven by tax matters rather than research, and Mr Read acknowledged the benefit. However he said "it will liberate the balance sheet and tax of the combined companies and that will allow us to have great cash flow and together be a stronger company, and together be able to invest in R&D and with the scientific community".

Claiming that the firms have complementary pipelines in immunoncology, inflammation and cardiovascular, Mr Read added that their off-patent businesses would also give them "strength and breadth in emerging markets". He concluded by saying that "I see this as a win-win for society [and] a win-win for shareholders".

Mr Read and his AstraZeneca counterpart Pascal Soriot will appear before the Commons Business Committee on Tuesday and the Science and Technology Committee the day after.

 

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