I’ll face down critics says Pfizer’s boss

THE BOSS of American drug giant Pfizer will jet into London next week for a crunch showdown with MPs over his plan to take control of UK drug giant Astrazeneca.

Ian Read, the Scottish boss of Viagra maker Pfizer, will face off against backbench MPs on Tuesday and Wednesday next week to try and soothe growing political fears that a £63bn takeover of Astrazeneca will reduce British scientific development.

Parliament’s business and science and technology select committees will question Read, his top scientist Mikael Dolsten and innovation chief Rod Mackenzie over the potential acquisition. Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot will also appear for questioning alongside Astra’s drug developer Mene Pangalos.

However, the evidence could be undermined by Takeover Panel rules, which curtail what prospective buyers can say during a takeover period.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday came out fighting in the House of Commons, following criticism from Labour over the way the government is handling the potential deal.

Rejecting claims that he has been “cheerleading” the takeover bid, Cameron said: “The commitments that have been made so far are encouraging,” adding that the best way to fight for British interests is to stay close to the deal. “I’m not satisfied, I want more, but the way to get more is to engage,” he told MPs.

Labour sources called on the Prime Minister to work with Ed Miliband to strengthen the public interest test in order to protect the UK’s science and research interests.

Pfizer yesterday published a colourful infographic stressing its argument that a takeover would bolster research efforts and help bring drugs to market more quickly.

Astrazeneca’s rejection of the £50 a share approach on Friday was yesterday endorsed by Investor AB, which owns about 4.1 per cent.

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