Exclusive: Pfizer, Allergan CEOs agree on combined company roles - sources

Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:24pm EST
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By Pamela Barbaglia and Greg Roumeliotis

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc and Allergan Inc chief executives have agreed on the roles they would assume in a combined company, removing one of the last hurdles to the largest ever healthcare merger, people familiar with the matter said.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read will be CEO of the combined company, while Allergan CEO Brent Saunders will have another very senior role, the people said on Friday, without providing more details. A deal announcement is expected in the coming days, one of the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Pfizer and Allergan declined to comment.

A top job at the combined company would position Saunders, 45, to have a claim at the CEO job when Read, 62, steps down. This arrangement also shows that Pfizer's management plans to remain in control, at least in the short term, even if the deal is technically structured so that Allergan buys Pfizer.

The roughly $150 billion merger would see New York-based Pfizer redomicile in Ireland, where Botox-maker Allergan is registered.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday took steps to clamp down on tax-avoiding inversion deals with new rules, though there was scarce evidence it would stop the biggest inversion of them all, between Pfizer and Allergan.

Read, a soft-spoken trained accountant, spent more than 30 years working his way up the Pfizer ranks, taking the reins in 2010 with the sudden departure of CEO Jeffrey Kindler.

He viewed refocusing and reigniting the company's research engine as one of his most important tasks after a decade in which Pfizer had produced no important new medicines from its own labs.   Continued...

A sign is seen at the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, November 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Tom Bergin