Pfizer Inc, the world’s largest drugmaker, is in talks to acquire Wyeth in a deal that may be worth as much as US$60 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks.
Negotiations have been going on for several months, final agreement isn’t imminent and talks may yet collapse because of the fragile state of financial markets, the newspaper said. New York-based Pfizer may pay in stock and cash, the Journal said.
A combination would create a drugmaker with sales of more than US$70 billion and bestselling medicines including the cholesterol pill Lipitor and Enbrel for arthritis. Pfizer chief executive officer Jeffrey Kindler has already announced plans to fire staff and reorganize operations to cut costs and accelerate the development of more profitable medications.
“For Pfizer it makes a lot of sense, for Wyeth I don’t know,” said Chris Albani, a Tokyo-based partner at PRTM who has advised pharmaceutical companies for about 20 years.
Ray Kerins, a spokesman for Pfizer, said by telephone that the company didn’t comment on what he referred to as “market speculation.”
Doug Petkus, a spokesman for Wyeth, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and voice-mail left on his office phone after normal business hours.
Pfizer fell 1.5 percent to US$17.21 on Thursday in New York, valuing the company at US$116 billion. Madison, New Jersey-based Wyeth dropped 1.9 percent to US$38.33, for a value of US$51.7 billion.
A bid at US$60 billion would be the biggest since a group led by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc acquired ABN Amro Holding NV last year for about 72 billion euros (US$95 billion).
The largest health-care deal remains Pfizer’s US$87 billion bid for Warner-Lambert Co in 2000, which was also the fourth-biggest takeover in history based on announced value, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.