AstraZeneca: Aberdeen's Martin Gilbert echoes calls for public interest test on Pfizer's takeover bid


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The Independent Online

One of AstraZeneca’s biggest shareholders has declared he is in favour of carrying out a public interest test on Pfizer’s controversial £63bn takeover plan for AstraZeneca, and would be happy to see the British pharmaceuticals giant remain independent.

The calls echoed the Labour leader Ed Miliband’s demands for such a test on major foreign takeovers, which would put Britain in line with other major western economies.

Martin Gilbert’s Aberdeen Asset Management is a top 10 shareholder in AstraZeneca, with 2.4 per cent - or £1.4bn worth – and has more to gain than most by a big-price takeover of the British company.

Yet Mr Gilbert told the Independent: “AstraZeneca’s management has done a good job refocusing the business and as far as we’re concerned remaining independent remains a viable outcome.

“We do have to look at this in UK terms because it is so important for our research and development. It’s got to be about more than tax benefits.”

Earlier, he told the BBC: “Pfizer unfortunately has this reputation of being ruthless cost-cutters.”

Mr Miliband called for a full public interest investigation to be carried out, independently reviewing the impact of such a deal on Britain’s science base.

The Business select committee today confirmed it would be calling representatives of Pfizer and AstraZeneca in for questioning over the deal.