Pfizer-Allergan talks accelerate amid new inversion clamp-down

Thu Nov 19, 2015 6:35am EST
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By Greg Roumeliotis and Kevin Drawbaugh

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N: Quote) talks to acquire Allergan Plc (AGN.N: Quote) in a $150 billion deal that would see the U.S. drug giant redomicile in Ireland accelerated on Wednesday, as the U.S. Treasury prepared to clamp down further on such tax inversions.

Pfizer is negotiating a price of $370 to $380 for each Allergan share, a person familiar with the discussions said, asking not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Allergan shares ended trading on Wednesday at $310.8 per share.

While negotiations have made progress in recent days, an agreement is not imminent and its timing remains uncertain following the Treasury's disclosure that it would seek to tighten the rules on inversions, the source added.

Inversions typically involve a U.S. multinational buying a smaller foreign competitor and relocating to its home country, if only on paper, to escape U.S. taxation. Ireland is a common destination. Management usually stays in the United States.

"Later this week, we intend to issue additional targeted guidance to deter and reduce further the economic benefits of corporate inversions," according to a letter from the Treasury seen by Reuters.

Pfizer was not named in the letter, which was signed by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and addressed to four senior lawmakers: U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch, and Representatives Kevin Brady and Sander Levin. All four serve on the Senate and House tax committees.

"We have no further comment beyond what is in the letter, at this time," a Treasury spokesman said. Pfizer and Allergan also declined to comment.

Levin said in a statement: "The fact that American companies, including Pfizer, continue to pursue inversions makes clear that additional steps are needed to stop this trend."   Continued...

The ticker information for Pfizer is displayed on a screen above the post where it's traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid