Pfizer Says Too Soon to Talk About U.S. AstraZeneca Jobs

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ian Read told the governors of Maryland and Delaware it’s too soon to determine what effect the company’s bid for AstraZeneca Plc will have on jobs and manufacturing in their states.

AstraZeneca, the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, rejected an offer of about $106 billion from Pfizer earlier this month, saying the New York-based pharmaceutical company wasn’t offering enough. Pfizer is planning to increase its bid, said people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Pfizer, the biggest U.S.-based drugmaker, said it would shift its legal address to the U.K. to reap tax benefits if the deal goes through. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote Read last week asking what assurances he could give them for the 5,700 AstraZeneca workers in their states. Pfizer already has pledged to keep at least one-fifth of the companies’ research units and a substantial manufacturing presence in the U.K. for at least five years.

“Because we are in the very early stages of our proposal and are not in direct discussions, it is premature to speculate on any specific impact this would have on jobs and facilities in any given state,” Read said in letters dated yesterday to the two Democratic governors. “I can tell you that Pfizer will continue to perform operational, research and manufacturing activity and will continue to have a significant number of employees in the U.S.”

Maryland’s U.S. congressional delegation sent its own letter to Read yesterday expressing concern that there may be job losses among AstraZeneca’s 3,000-plus employees in the state.

‘Similar Assurances’

“As you evaluate your next steps, we ask you to extend similar assurances to those you gave in the U.K. to the research and development workforce in Maryland,” wrote U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and Representatives C.A. ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger, Chris Van Hollen, John Sarbanes and John Delaney. “AstraZeneca and its MedImmune subsidiary have strong presences in the state, and their workforces are highly skilled and extremely effective.”

Pfizer hasn’t had access to any proprietary information from London-based AstraZeneca and the company still needs to collect additional details on its business and prospects, Read wrote to the two governors. He said Ken Cole, Pfizer’s senior vice president of government relations, would schedule a meeting to give them an update on the status of the discussions.

Markell said last week that updates on the status of the discussions wouldn’t be enough to assuage his concerns.

“Keeping us informed is very different from the kind of jobs they have committed to in the U.K.,” Markell said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.