Pfizer 'Committed To AstraZeneca In Britain'
US drug giant Pfizer has defended its takeover bid for Britain's AstraZeneca, ahead of its chief executive being questioned by MPs on Tuesday.
New York-based Pfizer also queried the ability of its smaller UK rival to remain viable as a standalone company.
It said commitments to maintain British jobs, continue with AstraZeneca's Cambridge research and development (R&D) centre and place 20% of research staff in the UK would be legally binding.
The Pfizer response is seen as the latest attempt to counter critics of its $106bn (£63bn) deal, which would be Britain's biggest ever takeover by a foreign firm.
But it has also become a political hot potato for the Government, and seen sharp comments issued by both Labour and UKIP.
Elements of the scientific community have also come out in opposition to the Pfizer bid.
Pfizer insisted the merger would create "a UK-based scientific powerhouse".
It also said AstraZeneca's solo strategy was flawed as it lacked financial clout to maximise potential for its experimental drugs.
"Looming patent expiries and near-term revenue losses jeopardise its ability to deliver on its very promising pipeline," Pfizer said in its written submission to Parliament.
Scots-born Pfizer's CEO Ian Read is to appear before a committee of MPs on Tuesday amid suspicion the company wants to merge with AstraZeneca as part of a tax minimisation plan.
AstraZeneca's French boss Pascal Soriot and Business Secretary Vince Cable will answer appear before the committee.
A second parliamentary committee on May 14 will question the drug firms' CEO, along with minister for universities and science, David Willetts.
Pfizer R&D head Mikael Dolsten sought to downplay concerns of the deal by posting a video online saying five previous mergers did not adversely affect drug research.
"If you keep your sense of curiosity and an open mind, you can learn tremendously," he said.
"We must stay laser-focused on our important projects. And that's, of course, true for Pfizer scientists and (AstraZeneca) scientists and will be true also if we can make a potential combination come together."
On Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron said he had made "very good progress" in securing guarantees from Pfizer, though its latest statements contained no new offers for the Anglo-Swedish firm.
But scepticism remains about Pfizer's long-term commitment to British jobs.
Last week the Swedish finance minister entered the debate because, 12 years after Pfizer took over the Scandinavian firm Pharmacia, the number of employees there had fallen by 90%.
Anders Borg said: "Our experience shows that their track record is not very convincing and I think one should take these kind of promises not only with a pinch of salt but a sackful of salt."