Pfizer and AstraZeneca: what's next

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Pfizer has until May 26 to make a hard offer to take over AstraZeneca, but the equivalent of kissing babies and shaking hands is ongoing. Reuters reports that the UK lawmakers will hear from both Pfizer CEO Ian Read and AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot about the whys and why-nots of the merger, which will then be followed by another hearing May 14 about the scientific implications of the possible deal.

The companies have had a very public back-and-forth about the possible takeover, with AstraZeneca telling investors that the long game is a good one if the company stays on its own, while Pfizer has said AstraZeneca does not have the money to capitalize on its intellectual property.

While Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford noted last week that AstraZeneca has a spotty history of keeping its financial promises, Reuters noted Monday that Pfizer also carries financial baggage in the form of a long history of job cuts. AstraZeneca is nearing the tail-end of a sizeable staff cut which was spread out over several years, but critics of the proposed Pfizer-AstraZeneca deal are concerned it will trigger considerable layoffs abroad, and Reuters notes that Pfizer's layoff legacy includes cutting 1,700 jobs when it shut down research operations in Sandwich, in southern England.

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