Zeneca merged with the Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra in 1999. So AstraZeneca isn’t really “British”, as most recent commentators suggest. Nevertheless, it is still an enormous and prestigious, British-headquartered company, on a par with Rolls Royce. A brilliant piece in today’s Evening Standard by Anthony Hilton explains why Pfizer’s bid would be disastrous. Since 2000, Pfizer has swallowed three pharmaceutical companies, destroying billions of dollars worth of value in the process. There is no evidence that they would do anything different with Astra-Zeneca.
We still don’t know how the British government are going to play this. The Conservative half at first seemed “minded” to support Pfizer. Will they even read arguments like Anthony Hilton’s? For the record, he is the Financial Editor of a conservative newspaper: no raving left-winger, he. He simply knows his stuff, unlike most of the government front bench.