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Pfizer mulls selling consumer unit, to peril of Puerto Rico plant

By on October 11, 2017

SAN JUAN – Pfizer Inc. is considering the possibility of fully or partially separating itself from its consumer healthcare business, which sells over-the-counter products, to focus on its biopharmaceutical business.

The decision, which is not final, puts in the air the fate of its Guayama plant, which was damaged by Hurricane María, and has yet to restart operations, Caribbean Business learned. The pharmaceutical company has three plants operating in Puerto Rico that employ about 2,000 workers.

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare develops, manufactures and markets non-prescription medicines, vitamins and personal care products that include Centrum, Advil, Robitussin and Preparation H.

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare reported about $3.4 billion in 2016 revenue. It operates in more than 90 countries. In addition, the business has 10 brands that each exceeded $100 million in 2016 sales, and several local brands that are top-ranked in their respective markets.

Pfizer to Downsize Operations in Barceloneta Beyond 2017

“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. 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,” Ian Read, Pfizer chairman and CEO, said in written remarks.

Pfizer officials said they have hired Centerview Partners LLC, Guggenheim Securities LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. as financial advisers to evaluate the future of its over-the-counter healthcare products. Any decision regarding strategic alternatives for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare would be made during 2018.

“The company does not plan to make any further statements about the strategic review process until a decision has been reached or upon the completion of the strategic review,” officials said.

The multinational is exploring a full or partial separation of the Consumer Healthcare business from Pfizer through a spin-off, sale or other transaction, but Pfizer may ultimately determine to keep the business.

It is not the first time the company has tried to restructure operations in Puerto Rico. Pfizer had announced in 2013 plans to close its Barceloneta plant by the end of 2017 due to excess capacity in its global manufacturing network but opted to revert the decision and is manufacturing a small number of solid dosage products in that facility.

Labor Secretary Manuel Laboy told Caribbean Business he has not received any notification from Pfizer about possible layoffs at the multinational.

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