Pfizer to buy Allergan in $160 billion deal

Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:49pm EST
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By Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc on Monday said it would buy Botox maker Allergan Plc in a deal worth $160 billion to slash its U.S. tax bill, rekindling a fierce political debate over the financial maneuver.

The acquisition, which would create the world's largest drugmaker and shift Pfizer's headquarters to Ireland, would also be the biggest-ever instance of a U.S. company re-incorporating overseas to lower its taxes. U.S. President Barack Obama has called such inversion deals unpatriotic and has tried to crack down on the practice.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton pledged to propose measures to prevent such deals. The merger was also slammed by her rival Senator Bernie Sanders as well as by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"The fact that Pfizer is leaving our country with a tremendous loss of jobs is disgusting," Trump said in a statement.

It was not immediately known how many jobs would be lost as a result of the merger.

Shares of Allergan fell 3.4 percent and Pfizer closed down 2.6 percent as investors learned the merger, under discussion since late October, would bring lower cost savings than they had hoped.

Pfizer also disappointed some investors by delaying by two years a decision on whether to sell off its division consisting of products facing generic competition.

To avoid potential restrictions, the transaction was structured as smaller, Dublin-based Allergan buying Pfizer, although the combined company will be known as Pfizer Plc and continue to be led by Chief Executive Officer Ian Read.   Continued...

A box of Pfizer drug Viagra and a bottle of Allergan product Botox are seen in a combination of file photos.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Shannon Stapleton/Files