Belfast Telegraph

Pfizer bosses face MPs' quiz over AstraZeneca takeover bid

By Alan Jones

MPs will quiz officials from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer over its takeover bid for AstraZeneca.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee will also question officials from the UK-based firm, which has rejected a £63bn takeover offer.

The committee is likely to seek assurances from the US firm about job security if the takeover goes ahead. Unions called for an urgent meeting with Business Secretary Vince Cable to press the case for jobs, amid speculation Pfizer could be planning a hostile bid.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "The workforce and the unions have acted in a responsible manner and shown remarkable patience, but that is now wearing thin.

"(Labour leader) Ed Miliband's sensible intervention at the weekend for a national interest test should be acted on.

"Neither the German or the French governments would be simply waving through a takeover on this scale.

"AstraZeneca is a key player in the UK's advanced manufacturing sector and as such is strategically important to the UK.

"Yet David Cameron and George Osborne seem comfortable waving the deal through, leaving any manufacturing strategy in tatters.

"Cameron says he has assurances on jobs and the future of the UK plants and we would like to know what they are.

"Smelling a quick profit, City institutions are now also pressing AstraZeneca to sit down and agree a deal with Pfizer.

"The companies should be talking to their workforces, as they would have to do in other countries before any deal goes through."

Mr Cable has indicated he is considering reforms to the "public interest test" for corporate takeovers amid a political row over Pfizer's move for AstraZeneca.

He said the Government was "looking at the options around the public interest test" after Mr Miliband demanded a full assessment of the potential deal.

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