Pfizer chief flies in to meet with UK government

Kate McCann
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PFIZER chief executive Ian Read flew to the UK yesterday for a string of high-profile meetings with senior government figures, in a bid to garner support for the AstraZeneca takeover deal.

Read met with chancellor George Osborne, science minister David Willets and cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood yesterday, after business secretary Vince Cable warned on Monday that any deal would be treated with caution by ministers.

MPs on the business select committee also voiced concern about the takeover and are understood to be considering calling Pfizer bosses before the committee for a grilling.

Cable, who spoke to Read via telephone, indicated that he would be prepared to intervene in the deal if British jobs would be lost. “My priority is to ensure that the objectives of this government's life sciences industrial strategy are fulfilled,” Cable said.

But Read warned ministers not to block the deal, telling the Financial Times: “The UK faces a choice, do they focus on ensuring there is an educated workforce with the right incentives in place to attract investment or do they pick winners and losers.”