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Ian Read, the chief executive of Pfizer, carries a coin in his pocket. About the size and weight of a £2 piece, on one side it urges "straight talk" while on the other are embossed the words "own it". The coin is available to all Pfizer's staff and is part of the "culture" Mr Read, a Scot, wants to see in his business.
Whether he flashed the coin during his discussions with the UK government over the possibility of Pfizer buying AstraZeneca is unknown, at least to me. But what is certainly true is that he doesn't quite "own" the deal - ministers will make sure of that - and however much "straight talk" he engages in, many will think he is spinning a line.
Two elements have now come into sharp focus. One is the government's attitude to the deal, which according to two very senior figures in Whitehall is warming up rapidly.
The other is China - which will be keeping a watchful eye on events in the City involving two drugs companies that occupy positions one and two in the Chinese pharmaceuticals market.
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