Global Processing

Pfizer to buy Wyeth for $68 billion, cut jobs

January 26, 2009

Pfizer Inc. is buying rival drugmaker Wyeth in a $68 billion deal that will increase its revenue by 50 percent, solidify its No. 1 rank in the troubled industry and transform it from a pure pharmaceutical company into a diversified health care giant, reports the Associated Press. At the same time, Pfizer announced cost cuts that include slashing more than 8,000 jobs as it prepares for an expected revenue crash when its cholesterol drug Lipitor loses patent protection in November 2011. The cash-and-stock deal, expected to close at the end of the third quarter or in the fourth quarter, comes as Pfizer''s profit takes a brutal hit from a $2.3 billion legal settlement over allegations it marketed certain products for indications that have not been approved. The New York-based company is also cutting 10 percent of its work force of 81,900, slashing its dividend, and reducing the number of manufacturing sites from 46 to 41. Those closures, and reducing its facilities square footage by about 15 percent, will cost about $6 billion before taxes, of which $1.5 billion has been incurred, Pfizer said. The company did not specify which plants it would close. Job cuts at Pfizer will begin in the first quarter and are to be complete by 2011, according to company spokesman Ray Kerins. Cuts will include most departments, from administration in sales to manufacturing and research. Pfizer said it anticipates the new cost-cutting program will reduce spending by about $3 billion, $1 billion of which will be reinvested in the business. That''s on top of an existing cost-cutting program that has produced about $2.8 billion in annual savings, compared with 2006 levels. Like Pfizer, Wyeth -- the maker of blockbuster antidepressant Effexor and children''s vaccine Prevnar -- has its own cost-cutting program in place, dubbed Project Impact. Both companies'' boards of directors approved the deal but Wyeth shareholders must do so, antitrust regulators must review the deal and a consortium of banks lending the companies $22.5 billion must complete the financing. The deal is being financed by five banks, according to Kerins. They are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase. Acquiring Wyeth helps Pfizer diversify and become less-dependent on individual drugs -- Lipitor now provides about one-fourth of all Pfizer revenue -- while adding strength in biotech drugs, vaccines and consumer products. Wyeth makes the world''s top-selling vaccines, Prevnar for meningitis and pneumococcal disease, and co-markets with Amgen Inc. the world''s No. 1 biotech drug, Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis. Together, and the two companies will have 17 different products with annual sales of $1 billion or more, including top antidepressant Effexor, Lyrica for fibromyalgia and nerve pain, Detrol for overactive bladder and blood pressure drug Norvasc.