AstraZeneca deal: What you need to know about Pfizer's £63bn bid

Pfizer's chief executive Ian Read has admitted jobs will be lost and research spending will be cut if the US pharmaceutical giant succeeds in taking over AstraZeneca in front of MPs.

This is what you need to know about the multi-billion pound deal:

What are today's parliamentary hearings about?

An attempt by the US drugs conglomerate Pfizer to take over the Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. It has made three bids - the most recent was £63bn - which have been rejected by AstraZeneca's board.

What does AstraZeneca do in the UK?

It employs 6,700 staff, including some 2,600 scientists, at seven sites working on developing medicines and biotechnology.

What about Pfizer?

One of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms, it has around 2,600 British employees.

Who is against the deal?

Unions and the Labour Party have raised fears that the potential acquisition would lead to job losses in Britain and the erosion of the UK's scientific research base. They point to redundancies after Pfizer took over other firms. One former  AstraZeneca chief executive has compared the American company to a 'praying mantis'.

Are there other worries?

Pfizer has said it wants to divide the business into three units. Critics fear this could pave the way to break-up of the company. They also claim that the potential move to the UK is prompted by a desire to cut its tax bill.

How has the government reacted?

Initially enthusiastically, with Tory ministers arguing that the deal demonstrated the appeal of Britain to foreign investment. David Cameron said Pfizer had produced 'robust' assurances on jobs and research. Since then, they have tempered their praise, arguing that the important thing is to engage with the US company.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, has adopted a more neutral stance.

What has Pfizer promised?

It has promised to keep one-fifth of its scientists in Britain for five years and insists the pledge is legally binding. It has also promised to press ahead with AstraZeneca's plans to build a research centre in Cambridge and to keep open its plant in Macclesfield.

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