The takeover of respiratory drug firm Vectura by tobacco company Philip Morris International has raised government eyebrows over public interest concerns, according to the business secretary.
The deal, worth more than £1bn, will be ‘closely monitored’ by the government after a letter from Labour shadow ministers urged the government to consider blocking it.
Under the Enterprise Act 2002, Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has powers to intervene in problematic mergers on the grounds of public interest and said government will “monitor the situation closely”.
Labour shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said that government “must take their responsibilities seriously and reassure the public that a company like Philip Morris won’t be able to profit from health conditions caused by the very products they manufacture”.
Wiltshire-based Vectura makes inhalers and inhaled medicines for smoking and non-smoking related illnesses.
The inhaler maker had previously agreed to a £958m deal with the Carlyle group in May but withdrew its backing for the offer of 136p per share, in favour of a higher bid from the tobacco company.