UK government says Pfizer's AstraZeneca bid a decision for shareholders

The British government said it had pressed U.S. company Pfizer to commit to British jobs and research in its bid for AstraZeneca, but the decision on whether the British group will be sold was a matter for its shareholders.

"This is ultimately going to be a decision for AstraZeneca shareholders," the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts told BBC Radio on Friday.

"We are pressing Pfizer in a very hard-nosed way. Their letter has a set of proposals for research and development and manufacturing in the UK that have moved a long way from where they were a week ago."

The U.S. company sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron laying out a series of commitments to Britain on Friday, when it also raised its offer for Britain's second biggest pharmaceutical company.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young)