Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Pfizer boss Ian Read introduces MPs to his ’empowerment coin’

Who gets the best deal from Pfizer’s proposed takeover of AstraZeneca? On the basis of today’s Business, Innovation and Skills select committee hearing with some of the key players, the answer is probably Conservative MP Brian Binley. He was very much enjoying his role in the hearing as he interrogated the boss of Pfizer, Ian Read, and his colleagues Frank D’Amelio and Jonathan Emms.

Binley managed to get the best one-liners out of the session (he’s got form: this is the MP who has in the past few years managed to describe his Prime Minister as a ‘chambermaid’ and a ‘janitor’), telling the panel that they offered ‘a lot of sales talk, but short on facts’, and accusing Read of being a ‘salesman’.

Read did talk an interesting game, insisting repeatedly that MPs could take him at his word, that ‘we do what we say’. Unfortunately, as he spoke, the weather outside took a turn for the worse, and some of his most serious pledges were accompanied by an ominous roll of thunder.

He also explained the role of an empowering coin that he likes to keep in his pocket. The weather did not react to this development. Apparently the empowering coin has a ‘straight talk’ side and an ‘own it’ side which allows Pfizer staff to have difficult conversations with their superiors. This may come in handy for those AstraZeneca employees who lose their jobs as a result of a takeover if it does go ahead (Read told the committee that ‘I cannot say how many or where’ the job losses would be, but that there would be ‘some reduction in jobs’).

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Isabel Hardman
Written by
Isabel Hardman
Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

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