Friday, May 2, 2014

My suggestion to UK politicians: don't believe Pfizer, demand that Pfizer CEOs post a bond

Via Derek Lowe, an interesting set of comments in this Reuters report on the Pfizer/AZ goings-on (emphasis mine): 
In an attempt to smooth relations with the government, Pfizer CEO Read wrote to Cameron, promising to complete a substantial new research center planned by AstraZeneca in Cambridge and retain a manufacturing plant in Macclesfield. 
The Cambridge site, in particular, is viewed as important to the development of the so-called "golden triangle" of Britain's life sciences industry, spanning Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Read also said that 20 percent of the enlarged group's research and development workforce would be in Britain, which a Pfizer spokesman said would represent a "very substantial" increase in its research efforts in the country. 
"We make these commitments for a minimum of five years, recognizing our ability, consistent with our fiduciary duties, to adjust these obligations should circumstances significantly change," Read added in a letter to Cameron. 
Science minister David Willetts said Pfizer had moved a long way in its commitments to British science and research, but the opposition Labour party was scathing about the potential deal. 
"Pfizer has a very poor record on previous acquisitions. Do we really want a jewel in the crown of British industry, our second biggest pharmaceutical firm, to basically be seen as an instrument of tax planning?" said business spokesman Chuka Umunna. 
Pfizer's reputation is under a cloud in Britain following a decision three years ago to shut most of its research work at a large R&D center in Sandwich, southern England, where Viagra was invented, with the loss of nearly 2,000 jobs.
Here's what I suggest to the subjects of the United Kingdom and their politicians: Don't believe Pfizer CEOs when they say they won't cut jobs to save money. What proof do we have that Pfizer management would go against their now 10 year record of job cuts?

In fact, I would ask Mr. Read or any current Pfizer CEO to post a bond (in an amount of say, 10% of their personal net worth) to guarantee any employment-related promises -- because I don't believe them. 


  1. I think the Pfizer top "management" should be placed against the wall and asset stripped.
    They can commit all they want for 5 years but after that it bye bye UK.
    They are assholes all of them.
    I have great pity for the Pfizer employees and the AZ workers, I really hope it works out for them.

  2. "In the end, your word is all you have, really."

    Given their history (and of others), why would the UK believe them? Oh, I forgot, it's five years, and when Pfizer pulls up stakes and sends its cash to China, or Vietnam, or whatever tax haven they find next, the people who endorsed the deal will say "We couldn't have possibly known this would happen!" and since their populace won't remember anyway, they'll be safe.

    When the finance troll bought (with its own money!), looted, and bankrupted the Chicago Tribune, while remaining intact, I think our society and financial system wrote its own murder/suicide note.

  3. The best way to defeat the Pfizer Death Star and the Evil Empire of Pharamaceutical Companies is through our diets.

  4. biotechtoreadorMay 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    "Mr. Read or any current Pfizer CEO to post a bond (in an amount of say, 10% of their personal net worth) to guarantee any employment-related promises"

    Whoa, cowboy, you mean you expect executives to keep their promises? I assume you expect the same of politicians running for office? What color is the sky in your world?

    I find it flabbergasting that these guys are able to effectively enter into a verbal contract to win a deal, or an election, and then back out of said contractual term by citing "change in conditions". The idea of a bond (I think 10% is too low for someone who makes $6,000,000/year) is intriguing and wonder if there's a way to force the promising company to do this as a term of the government or seller to agree to the transaction.

  5. Instead of once burned, twice warned, this seems more like repeatedly burned, never learned.

  6. It seems odd that well-known politician (Shadow Business Secretary) Chuka Umunna is described as a 'business spokesman'. Unless I'm missing something that helps translate this to a US audience.

    It's also telling how the author doesn't question how exciting it is for a business to be based in the golden triangle. Where does the UK economy need boosting especially? Oh yes, that'd be the affluent south east, where the politicians and managers live, same as it's always been. Since when did the south east need 'development'?

  7. One ring to rule them all.......

  8. People will lose their jobs, medicine will continue to be expensive, CEOs and major shareholders will make big money. All the while, graduate schools will continue to pump out Ph.Ds with few jobs available. There must be a lesson in there somewhere . . .

  9. I read this on the weekend and it is quite timely. LaMattina has commented that it is likely that research centers will be in jeopardy with this AZ acquisition.

  10. I'm with Biotechtoreador, that 10% personal net wealth isn't enough skin in the game. Why not add a 25% of future earnings for 20 years? The 10% seems like a minor one time annoyance considering the potential upside to shuttering a R&D facility and moving to to a tax sheltered country.

  11. All the comments about "saving jobs" at all cost makes me laugh. Does internal R&D at Pfizer, or any large pharma for that matter, is worth saving? I worked at Pfizer for 10 years (Groton), and it's filled with slackers PhD who think they deserves 140K/year because they got a post doc from a nobel prize winner... Nobody works. All they do is to polish their deck of slides for the next Gordon conference, where they will be doing a whole lot of whoring around for the possibility of being a parasite in another big pharma. Please, take this BS behind the shed, shoot it in the head and move all R&D to asia already...

    1. Kind of how I feel about tenured faculty...........


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