The naivety of the Cameron government in accepting the promises of asset-stripping U.S. drugs giant Pfizer in its effort to take over Britain’s AstraZeneca is breathtaking.
At this early stage in a bid battle, before a formal offer has been posted to shareholders, it is outrageous that the Government and Whitehall should think they have a role in smoothing the way for a deal.
If, as Chancellor George Osborne has said, big mergers with overseas firms should be settled ‘on commercial grounds’ and by the markets, then the Government should keep its nose out of such matters.
What it certainly should not be doing is giving an overseas predator - which in the recent past pulled thousands of jobs out of Britain - open access to government ministers so it can forge private deals out of sight of investors.
Labour leader Ed Miliband —who has accused the Government of acting as a ‘cheerleader’ for Pfizer’s £63 billion offer for AstraZeneca - has, for once, struck the right note.
Yes, his comments may be sheer hypocrisy since it was under Labour that great swathes of British commerce (including four of the big six energy groups) were abandoned to overseas control.
But the sight of the Government grovelling to an overseas corporation, seeking to merge with one of our most highly successful science-based companies, is little short of sickening.Conservative justification for supporting what would be the biggest foreign takeover of a British company is, to my mind, based on short-sighted political point-scoring.
A little over the top, perhaps; but the point is taken.