U.K. union makes its case against AstraZeneca's R&D relocation

AZ CEO Pascal Soriot

Union leaders in the U.K. are fighting a rear-guard action against AstraZeneca's ($AZN) planned R&D relocation from Alderley Park in Cheshire to Cambridge. A Unite official called the move--expected by 2016 after AstraZeneca builds a major new headquarters and R&D facility in the science hub--both a massive blow to the regional economy as well as a possible spoiler for research productivity at a time the company is facing some stiff headwinds. AstraZeneca's new CEO Pascal Soriot revealed the move recently after unveiling the company's third restructuring in the last few years. It's unlikely that AstraZeneca will change its mind after insisting that R&D needs to regroup in a few key hubs. And unlike France, where unions can trigger major disruptions, the British groups don't have the clout needed to force a rethink. Nevertheless, they'll sit down with company officials today to give it a try. Story