Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of acting as a cheerleader for the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizers proposed takeover of its British rival AstraZeneca as he called for the brakes to be put on the biggest takeover in UK corporate history. This is a bit rich coming from the leader of a party that presided over a car boot sale of british assets to foreign corporations between 1997 and 2010 so that we have ended up not owning our electricity and gas supplies, water, and probably not even the steam off our piss, so comprehensive was Labour’s sell off.
Still, fair’s fair and Ed has a point. The Labour leader, who said Pfizer had a pretty dubious record on takeovers (he was probably referring to Prime Minister Blair, Cameron has only presided over one takeover cock up, the Kraft / Cadbury debacle,) has written to the Cameron calling for a change in the law to ensure that a public interest test on such corporate deals should be applied to strategic economic interests. The public interest test normally applies to defence companies or utilities.
I don’t remember Ed doing anything like that when he was a minister in the Labour government but beter late than never. It would be unworthy to mention that Ed’s concern for the welfare of British workers might have something to do with the fact that an election is only a year away, so I will not mention it.
Miliband has decided to intervene after Pfizer offered what he described as pretty weak assurances to protect AstraZenecas research and development base. Pretty weak assurances? Pfizer have more or less admitted they intend to break up and asset strip Astra Zeneca:
Pfizer last night admitted its £63billion bid for AstraZeneca might result in the break-up of the British drugs firm.
Ian Read, who heads the US company, indicated his highly profitable UK takeover target would be split into three parts.
Asked whether any of these could be sold off, he replied: We will conserve that optionality. No decision has been taken about the future.
Assurances my arse, all Pfizer want in patents and a portal into the EU market. We need a leader who knows the meaning of the (reversed) V sign.