Pfizer admits jobs will be lost in AstraZeneca takeover

Jobs will be lost and research budgets cut back if Pfizer takes over the British drugs company AstraZeneca, the chief executive of the American pharmaceuticals giant admitted today.

Ian Read’s warning came as he was cross-examined by MPs over Pfizer’s proposed £63bn acquisition of AstraZeneca. The attempted merger has been widely criticised and raised fears that Britain’s science base would be eroded.

Mr Read acknowledged that if the merger went ahead, the two firms’ combined research budgets of around $11bn would be reduced.

He told the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee: “I do not expect the combined total will remain the same. I expect it will be lower, to what extent I cannot be specific.”

Mr Read said a merger, creating the world’s largest pharmaceuticals company, would improve efficiency, leading to redundancies.

“There will be some jobs cut somewhere that's part of being more efficient. Whereabouts in the world I cannot say."

He would not give specific commitments about jobs numbers at AstraZeneca sites at Cambridge and Macclesfield since Pfizer had not yet seen the UK firm's books.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca backer slams Pfizer for ‘aggression’

In highly-charged exchanges, he was asked by Labour MP Adrian Bailey, the committee’s chairman, to answer accusations that Pfizer behaved like a “praying mantis” and a “shark which needs feeding”.

Mr Read responded that Pfizer was a “company of high integrity focused on patients and delivering drugs to patients” and he was very proud of 35-year career at the firm.

He repeated a pledge made to David Cameron that 20 per cent of research and development workers in the combined company would be in Britain, but he would not put a number on the promise.

Several MPs protested that they could not believe his assurances that British jobs and scientific research would be protected if the takeover took place. Labour’s William Bain said: “When we probe into these commitments there is very little behind them.”

The Lib Dem Mike Crockart asked why the Government should support a Pfizer bid as "you have a reputation of being ruthless cost-cutters, and that seems to be borne out by what you have said today". The Tory Brian Binley said: “We haven’t had the level of straight talk we needed.”

Mr Read said Pfizer’s promise to site 20 per cent of research jobs in Britain for five years was unprecedented.

He said: 'Those commitments are legally binding not for one year, but for five. I am here today to honour those commitments.”

Earlier Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite, told the MPs that AstraZeneca workers were angry and worried about Pfizer’s record on jobs. He said the US company had cut 65,000 jobs globally since 2005.

The GMB’s national officer, Allan Black, said: “You don't really buy a second-hand car if the guy says 'I'm giving you a guarantee but, hey, if things change the guarantees are null and void'.”

Ian Read’s claims

... on UK tax

Mr Read, asked if Pfizer had paid any tax during 2012, or whether it had actually received more money back than it had actually paid, said the company paid £400m in tax in Britain over the past three years, but that included tax on staff pay.

Pfizer reportedly paid £118m in corporation tax but received tax credits of £184m from the Government between 2010 and 2012, a net gain of more than £66m. Its sales in the UK over the same period were nearly £5bn.

... on job cuts in Kent

Mr Read was challenged over 1,700 redundancies at Pfizer’s research site in Sandwich, Kent, where Viagra was first developed. He told the MPs that the posts were axed because they were no longer crucial to the company. Jonathan Emms, Pfizer’s UK managing director, said it still employed people in Sandwich – and even helped to pay for the flood defences in the area.

The Pfizer office in Sandwich is in Discovery Park. The company still employs about 700 people there. The Government is to spend £25m on flood defences. Pfizer said it had made a “significant contribution” to those works.

... on the Swedish experience

Mr Read was asked about the Swedish government’s warning that Pfizer did not keep its promises when it bought a drugs company in 2002. He replied that the Swedes have got their facts wrong. He said Pfizer did not open a new factory because a planned drug did not obtain approval.

Swedish firm Pharmacia, a company founded in 1911 which employed thousands of people, was bought by Pfizer for $60bn (about £35bn) in 2002. Pharmaceutical industry expert Torun Nilsson has said: “There are only scraps left of Pharmacia.”

Sweden’s finance minister, Anders Borg, said Pfizer had “made quite strong promises” about Pharmacia at the time of the sale but “what we see today is that those promises had very little effect”.

The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Chief Financial Officer

120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?