US drugmaker Pfizer suggested it could raise its proposed $106 billion offer if AstraZeneca engaged in talks, as its boss was grilled by UK lawmakers on his commitment to British research spending and jobs.
The New York-based group said it was disappointed by AstraZeneca’s refusal to discuss its proposed merger. Chief executive Ian Read did not rule out a hostile bid, telling a parliamentary committee he had various “options” for his next move.
Having pledged to keep a fifth of research jobs in Britain, Scottish-born Read said he could not commit to maintaining a specific R&D budget there.
“We’ll be efficient by some reduction in jobs. What I cannot tell you is how much or how many or where. We’ll look at this as our global combined footprint and then we’ll make decisions,” Read said.
He told the panel he expected the combined research expenditure of the merged drugmaker would be lower than that of the two separate companies, noting one of the drivers of his proposed deal was to increase efficiency to keep both firms competitive in an increasingly tough marketplace.
Pfizer warned that Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker could wither without its financial muscle, after AstraZeneca rejected its May 2 cash-and-stock offer worth 50 pounds a share and said it had a bright future as an independent business.