Could people please try using logic?

If the bid succeeds, the coalition government will have thrown its collective weight behind this sale of a major British asset

OK, AstraZeneca is a British asset.

But like all British plcs, AstraZeneca is an ownerless corporation. The hedge funds and global asset management groups that own more than half its shares have zero interest in British employment, public health, science base and exports

OK, so Britain doesn’t actually own AstraZeneca therefore it’s not a British asset.

WTF is it with these people that they’re willing to put two directly contrary arguments into consecutive paragraphs?

19 comments on “Could people please try using logic?

  1. But like all British plcs, AstraZeneca is an ownerless corporation. The hedge funds and global asset management groups that own more than half its shares have zero interest in British employment, public health, science base and exports

    I am probably a little slower than usual today, but isn’t the larger logic failure the claim that AstraZeneca has no owner, immediately before the claim that AstraZeneca is owned by hedge funds and global asset management groups?

    How does it follow that you need to have an interest in British jobs before you’re a British company?

  2. “WTF is it with these people that they’re willing to put two directly contrary arguments into consecutive paragraphs?”

    It was written after Friday lunch?
    There’s also this little snippet, H/T Guido

    The Institute of Directors on AstraZeneca:

    “It is misleading to present AstraZeneca as some kind of UK national champion. The company is a truly multinational enterprise that was created through the earlier mergers of UK, Swedish and American companies. The majority of its employees are based outside Europe and its shareholders are overwhelmingly foreign institutional investors. It is run by a Frenchman and chaired by a Swede. It is a multinational company active in a global economy.”

    Rather settles the argument, doesn’t it?

  3. K.R. Lohse – “Rather settles the argument, doesn’t it?”

    Depends what the argument is. Myself I think the argument is “are they curing cancer or something comparable or at least getting closer to doing so?” If so, who gives a flying f**k who owns the company. Give me the drugs! If not, who gives a flying f**k who is wasting their own money?

    But in Guardianland, companies exist solely as a job creation enterprise. Take away their shovels and give them tea spoons!

  4. The Golden Age of medicine, or at least medicines, is over. A likely response is lots of cost-cutting mergers and takeovers amongst the pharma firms.

    If you don’t like it, your best course of action is to find a Newton for biology, who will revolutionise the search for new drugs.

  5. Bizarre isn’t it? A few weeks ago the only writing on big pharma you could expect in the Guardian would be about how evil it all was, an American company makes an offer and they get all swivel-eyed little englander about protecting British companies.

  6. Pendant alert!

    Astra Zeneca is not owned by hedge funds and institutions, it’s owned by the investors in hedge… etc.

  7. Astra Zeneca is not owned by hedge funds and institutions, it’s owned by the investors in hedge… etc.

    I’m not sure that share ownership is usually quite as transitive as that (although it may be for some VC collectives). I appreciate that the beneficial ownership accrues that way but I think AZ is owned (mostly) by the institutions which are themselves owned by their investors. You, as an investor, certainly aren’t the owner of record and, if the institution closed, you couldn’t take your portions of the shares out directly – they’d have to be sold and you would then get cash.

    Mostly harmless pendentry, though.

  8. “Bizarre isn’t it? A few weeks ago the only writing on big pharma you could expect in the Guardian would be about how evil it all was, an American company makes an offer and they get all swivel-eyed little englander about protecting British companies.”

    All lefties are, in the final analysis, nationalists and imperialists.

  9. All lefties are, in the final analysis, nationalists and imperialists.

    Which was the problem the international communists had with the Facists and the National Socialists. It wasn’t their lack of socialism, rather the (actually quite sensible for the times) nationalism.

    Whether, if International Communism had triumphed it would have broken apart in to national Socialist states before the socialism actually broke everything is an amusing thought experiment enjoyable chiefly for the fact that it didn’t actually happen.

  10. SE, thank you for taking pendantry to a new level. I thought people would take the spirit of my post and accept that in the end everything with value is owned by individuals. So as they are the owners, let them decide. Or buy the company yourself.

    On the other hand, the G is a useless bit of dirt with no value but I, as a stakeholder in this great British Institution, demand that Worstall be officially chief sub editor, Farage nominates the bloggers.

  11. Grauniad is mercantilist. Quelle surprise. Economic absolutism is just the corollary to political absolutism, and the Dragunia never saw an absolutist it didn’t like.

  12. If someone invented something that made the oil industry considerably less valuable tomorrow, the Graun would be decrying potential job losses there by the end of the week.

  13. The headline is great:

    “This Pfizer takeover would be a real threat to British sovereignty”

    So… one multinational company buying another multinational company is a threat to British sovereignty (even though that doesn’t stop British people setting up other companies if they want to), but the same paper believes the EU making most of our laws is just brilliant (even though we have no choice but to comply with EU legislation), and only swivel-eyed right-wing loons could object.

    “For Pfizer is openly buying AstraZeneca for tax planning. It has built a huge cash war chest that it holds outside the US because it does not want to pay corporation tax at 35%. Instead, by buying AstraZeneca, it can enjoy both Britain’s 21% corporation tax and further tax reliefs designed for drug companies – the so-called patent box.”

    Sounds like good news for Britain.

    “future UK governments’ freedom to change corporation tax will be eliminated.”

    By “change” they mean “increase”. Sounds like more good news for Britain. Of course nothing of the sort will happen – future British governments will be just as free to raise taxes and drive business out of the UK as they’ve always been. Seems the Observer is just pissed off that the goose won’t stand still and be plucked bald. How dare those evil bastard businesses make rational decisions in their own self-interest instead of handing over all their money to HMRC?

    So what does the Observer think HM Government should do?

    “The UK government did not have to roll over. It could have been patriotic. Had it said it was opposed to the bid, Pfizer would have withdrawn – but that takes political bravery. At the very least, it could have asked Pfizer for a $10 billion bond which the company forfeits if it does not keep its pledges.”

    Newspaper that supports the EU, multiculturalism, and unlimited mass immigration is calling for “patriotism”. Ho ho ho! And by “patriotism” they mean the government should stop people voluntarily selling their property – shares in a company – to those awful Americans. Pfizer offering to buy shares in a British company is “predatory”, apparently.

    The Left sure love their little fantasies of autarky, don’t they?

  14. If the Left like the company so much they can buy it themselves. Why they have not yet done so I have no idea.
    That would safeguard a few UK jobs (and a host of overseas ones) and make it a British company for the first time.
    Funny how the Left scream about the odd company purchases when they ignore most company purchases.

  15. But Martin, they are the labour and not the capital… And Piketty tells us that the two cannot overlap

  16. @SMFS re tea spoons, I have this very morning written to Alan Rusbridger to demand that every Guardian article be produced by a minimum of five writers. That would help with the unemployment problem, and it’s such a simple idea.

  17. Interested – “I have this very morning written to Alan Rusbridger to demand that every Guardian article be produced by a minimum of five writers. That would help with the unemployment problem, and it’s such a simple idea.”

    Ask him if he followed the Evil Rupert in getting rid of all those Spanish practices among the printers. Having lots and lots of typesetters ought to do the unemployment figures no end of good.

    Come to think of it, did Alan preside over the winding up of the Scott Trust and the Guardian Media Group, and the selling of the assets to a Trust in the Caribbean somewhere? Was that sale of a genuine British asset in the interests of British workers?

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