Pfizer Mulls Sale of Consumer Health Unit
Pfizer is reviewing the future of its Consumer Healthcare division. The US drug major said it is considering a range of options, including a full or partial separation through a spin-off, sale or other transaction, or even ultimately retaining the business.
Rumors surfaced last November that Pfizer was looking to divest the business, which achieved sales of around $3.4 billion in 2016 and markets top brands such as Centrum vitamins and ChapStick lip balm. A sale could bring in as much as $14 billion, according to media reports.
Pfizer said the move falls under its continuing efforts to allocate resources and capital to best serve patients and maximize value for its shareholders. The Consumer Healthcare division is one of the world’s largest over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare products businesses with two of the 10 top brands globally - Centrum and Advil pain relief - and sales of 10 other brands each exceeding $100 million.
“Although there is a strong connection between Consumer Healthcare and elements of our core biopharmaceutical businesses, it is also distinct enough from our core business that there is potential for its value to be more fully realized outside the company,” said CEO Ian Read. “By exploring strategic options, we can evaluate how best to fuel the future success and expansion of Consumer Healthcare while simultaneously unlocking potential value for our shareholders.”
British newspaper Financial Times quoted one large Pfizer investor who said he interpreted the announcement as a sign that the company wanted to raise cash to do something “transformative” in the pharmaceuticals sector, such as buying Bristol-Myers Squibb, a leading maker of cancer immunotherapies with a market value of $105 billion.
Pfizer has engaged Centerview Partners, Guggenheim Securities and Morgan Stanley as financial advisors and said it expects to make a decision next year on what it intends to do with the business.
Last month, Germany’s Merck KGaA said it was weighing options for its Consumer Health business, including a full or partial sale as well as strategic partnerships.