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Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK


Business: The Company File

Jobs saved in chemicals deal

The job losses would have been a bitter pill to swallow

The jobs of thousands of chemicals workers around the world have been secured following a billion pound takeover deal.

It means several hundred jobs in Scotland are safe too after the merger of two huge pharmaceutical businesses, Astra and Zeneca.

The newly formed AstraZeneca has sold its speciality chemicals business to a buy-out consortium backed by two venture capitalist groups, Cinven and Investcorp, for £1.3bn.

All the group's 4,700 management and employees are transferring to the new business.

Not down in the mouth

When Zeneca joined forces with the Swedish drugs company Astra, there were fears that hundreds of jobs could go at Grangemouth, Scotland, where the group manufacturers colours and pigments, in particular inks for computer printers.

Overall the group employs 2,000 people in the UK, based mainly at plants in Grangemouth, Huddersfield in Yorkshire, Billingham on Teesside and at the head office at Blackley, near Manchester.

However, following what will be the largest ever buy out in the chemicals sector a new £3.5m DNA medicine facility will now be built in Grangemouth. The remaining jobs around the world also look safe.

Jobs are safe

Jeremy Scudamore, currently chief executive of Zeneca Specialties, will become chief executive of the new company, which has yet to be given a name.

Mr Scudamore said the buy-out posed no threat to jobs in the company.

AstraZeneca has been keen to dispose of the business as it tries to integrate the two companies.

Shares in AstraZeneca rose 61p to £23.98 after the news.



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