World and Nation

Pfizer continues to defend takeover bid for Astrazeneca

Pfizer on Saturday continued to press its case for a $106 billion takeover of AstraZeneca, the British drugmaker, in the face of mounting resistance on both sides of the Atlantic.

In a series of videos posted online, Pfizer’s chief executive, Ian Read, tried to quell growing concern from British politicians about the transaction, and make the case that the deal would benefit shareholders of both companies.

Apparently responding to critics of the deal who say a Pfizer takeover of one of Britain’s biggest companies would destroy jobs in the country, Read suggested he would complete AstraZeneca’s planned research campus in Cambridge, England, should the deal go through.

Read pointed to Pfizer’s work in the United States, where it has centralized research operations outside Boston, as an example of what the company would do in England.

“I see great similarities with Cambridge, Mass., where you have this hub of innovation, this hub of young scientists, where you see between Cambridge and Oxford and London huge opportunities in science,” he said. “So the strategy to build a center in Cambridge in fact is in line with our strategy, as we’ve shown by what we’ve done in Massachusetts.”

However, Pfizer recently laid off a significant number of employees at a large facility in Sandwich, England.

In a video, Read responded by saying that the jobs in Sandwich were no longer needed. “The areas in which we were doing science were areas that we decided we wanted to exit,” he said.

In the face of growing scrutiny over Pfizer’s plans to move its domicile to England should it complete a deal, Read acknowledged that such a move would substantially reduce the company’s taxes. But he said that would free up cash for more research and development.

“It will liberate the balance sheet and tax of the combined companies and that will allow us to have great cash flow and together be a stronger company, and together be able to invest in research, and in development, and with the scientific community,” he said.

Read said Pfizer and AstraZeneca had complementary pipelines, and that together, their off-patent drugs would make the combined company a powerhouse in emerging markets.

AstraZeneca has so far rebuffed Pfizer’s approaches, and lawmakers in London and Washington are not yet sold on the transaction. But Read is continuing to press his case for what would be the largest pharmaceutical deal in more than a decade.