Pfizer: AstraZeneca takeover could lead to R&D and job cuts

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer has conceded its proposed £63bn takeover of AstraZeneca would lead to job cuts and reductions in UK R&D spending.

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read made the admission when questioned by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, despite the company’s previous stance that any takeover of AstraZeneca would be positive for the UK.

“I’m not sitting here saying that we can become more efficient without some reduction in jobs,” he told MPs on the business select committee.

“We’ll be more efficient by some reduction in jobs. What I can’t tell you is how much or how many or where.”

Despite declaring a deal for AstraZeneca would be “win-win” for shareholders and the UK workforce, Read has refused to safeguard the jobs of scientists at the combined companies.

Read has also refused to rule out of a hostile takeover of AstraZeneca, which rejected Pfizer’s £63bn offer earlier this month, stating it had a bright future as an independent business.

Pfizer is expected to return with a new offer for the company but insiders believe it will wait until the parliamentary hearings are completed.

AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot, who gave evidence at the hearing after Read, said Pfizer’s proposal risked disrupting its research and delaying getting life-saving new drugs to market.

“What will we tell the person whose father died from lung cancer because one of our medicines was delayed – and essentially was delayed because in the meantime our two companies were involved in saving tax and saving costs?” he said.