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Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is more likely to spin off its animal health unit than sell it, says CEO Ian Read, who has been working to shrink the group by divesting non-core businesses since taking over as chief in December 2010. Though no final decision has been made, Read said there were clear attractions for shareholders in a tax-free spinoff of the operation, which is the biggest in the industry.
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Pfizer faces a hefty tax bill if it sells outright, and any buyer would also face substantial antitrust hurdles. “It’s the largest animal health business and it would stand alone as an individual company. There’s huge interest among investors to own a company like that,” Read told Reuters.
Pfizer is trying to focus on core pharmaceutical operations, and hopes to dispose of the unit between July 2012 and July 2013. Novartis (NYSE:NVS) and Bayer AG were reported last week to have approached Pfizer about the possible sale of its animal health business, which analysts believe could be worth $15-20 billion.
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