Takeover bids: the Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca: the implications for Universities

Please find attached a link to a recent article about the current bid by Pfizer to take over the UK based pharmaceutical AstraZeneca; a company with Research based links with several UK Universities. Politicians of all political hue in the spectrum are currently embarking on a very keen debate as to whether there is a ‘national interest’ in science, research and manufacturing. The writer considers that in terms of the work engaged in by Universities, there is such a national interest worth preserving.

Should a takeover be about shareholder value (the value of any sale to the shareholders), and nothing but shareholder value? The current offer stands at £50 per share or thereabouts (currently totalling £63bn). A same or similar debate and process would receive a different answer in Europe – as the current takeover bid for Alstom by General Electric (and latterly Siemens) shows – the French Government supporting a bid by the subsequent offeror. UK politicians are, perhaps reluctantly, being drawn into taking sides about a process that is ordinarily resolved by the markets and the Takeover Code, and generally free of direct political involvement of Government. Perhaps the takeover process of AstraZeneca will change this and make things more ‘European’ in approach?

The current debate is evidently not solely confined to ‘shareholder value’ only, and the attached Newspaper article is as good a place as any, to start an inquiry about the issues, including the request by politicians of both sides for a commitment by any purchaser, hostile or otherwise (in ‘takeover’terms), to commit to continued investment in research and development involving Universities.


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