Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Steve Brown from the Zeneca Public Affairs Department. I'm here today to tell you a little bit more about the merger between Zeneca and the Swedish pharmaceuticals company Astra. So, first of all, the boards of Astra and Zeneca have announced that there is to be an all-share merger of the two companies. The new company will be called AstraZeneca. I'll begin by going through the rationale for the merger and listing some of its benefits. Then I'll go on to give some details about the new board and talk about the financial effects of the merger. And finally, I'll give a brief summary of the terms, including details about dividends and so on.
The merger is a natural step for both partners as they both share the same science-based culture as well as a common vision concerning the future of the industry. The benefits of this move are many. To begin with, the merged group will have an enhanced ability to create long-term growth and increased value for its shareholders. Furthermore, it'll be able to deliver the full potential of its existing and future products through the joint strength and worldwide presence of its global sales and marketing operations. In fact, based on the joint pharmaceutical sales for last year, the AstraZeneca group will be the third largest pharmaceutical company in the world.
The combined strength of the two R&D functions will also ensure an excellent basis for innovation-led growth. With a combined R&D spend of nearly $2bn, AstraZeneca will one of the largest R&D organizations in the world, which will mean that the company will also be of great interest to academic institutions and biotech companies seeking partners for their research programmes.
At a strategic level, management is hoping that the merger will create sizeable operational efficiencies by restructuring areas of duplication. It has been calculated that synergies resulting from the merger could lead to cost reductions of over a billion dollars within the next three years. Although this sounds like a somewhat optimistic figure, we are quite confident that it can be achieved through streamlining the workforce, particularly in areas like administration and a restructuring of the two sales operations.
Moving on to the board now, the board of AstraZeneca will be drawn equally from the two companies, with Tom McKillop, the Chief Executive, running the company along with his executive team. The board will be headed by Percy Barnevik, the non-executive Chairman, whose job it will be to check that strategy and policy are periodically reviewed and agreement is maintained. The two deputy Chairmen, Sir David Barnes and Hakan Mogren, both have extensive experience of the pharmaceutical industry and business in general. They will be available to advise and support the Chief Executive as necessary.