US drugs giant Pfizer stepped up its pursuit of Britain’s AstraZeneca today by tabling a new takeover proposal worth around £63bn.
The Viagra maker said it hoped the new offer of £50 a share - an increase of seven per cent on its proposal in January - will provide the basis for the two companies to enter into discussions over a possible combination.
In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Pfizer said it was committed to building Astra’s planned research and development (R&D) hub in Cambridge and that 20 per cent of the combined company’s R&D workforce will be in the UK.
Chief executive Ian Read said in the letter: “We believe the industrial logic for a combination between Pfizer and AstraZeneca is compelling.”
He pointed out that the combined company would bring together “powerful and world-leading” research expertise in key areas such as oncology, inflammation, and cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
And resources in the “golden triangle” of Oxford, Cambridge and London would represent a vital component of the new company, Mr Read added.
Pfizer said it will actively look to locate manufacturing operations in the UK and will retain Astra’s commercial manufacturing facilities in Macclesfield.
Astra employs more than 50,000 people around the world, including 6,700 in the UK, but numbers are being reduced as it shifts its headquarters to Cambridge, closing a research centre in Cheshire and offices in London.
Pfizer employs more than 70,000 people around the world, including 2,500 in the UK, with 900 at its regional headquarters in Surrey.
Astra has already spurned two advances from Pfizer on the grounds that the proposals “very significantly undervalued” its business.
The UK company said its board will meet to discuss the new takeover approach and that a further announcement will be made when appropriate.
Today’s letter to Mr Cameron from Pfizer’s Scottish-born chief executive will attempt to allay fears among unions and politicians regarding the impact a takeover will have on jobs and Britain’s life sciences industry.
Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine said today that he believed the Government should have greater powers to intervene when UK companies are targeted for takeover by foreign firms.