Controversial facelift for Pfizer
24.11.2015 - After weeks of speculation it is official: US pharma major Pfizer and Irish Botox maker Allergan will merge. With the deal, Pfizer is planning to dodge the high US taxes, causing indignation among US politicians.
It is a deal in a league of its own. US$160bn (€150bn) will change hands, making it the largest tax inversion ever seen. Since Allergan was acquired by Irish Actavis late last year, the company has officially been headquartered in Dublin. In this Irish capital, corporate taxes are considerably lower than in the US. Officially, Dublin-based Allergan will acquire the larger Pfizer, only to turn around and rebrand as Pfizer plc – only now domiciled in Ireland and subject to the significantly lower Irish taxes.
The announcement of the deal caused outrage in the US, and US politicians across the political spectrum are crying foul. “For too long, powerful corporations have exploited loopholes that allow them to hide earnings abroad to lower their taxes. Now Pfizer is trying to reduce its tax bill even further. This proposed merger, and so-called inversions by other companies, will leave US taxpayers holding the bag,” commented presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. The US Treasury Department’s has promised to make inversions much less profitable in future.
Pfizer, therefore, was eager to close the deal this year. Ian Read, CEO of the Viagra maker, said: “Allergan’s businesses align with and enhance Pfizer’s businesses, creating best-in-class, sustainable, innovative and established businesses that are poised for growth. Through this combination, Pfizer will have greater financial flexibility that will facilitate our continued discovery and development of new innovative medicines for patients, direct return of capital to shareholders, and continued investment in the United States, while also enabling our pursuit of business development opportunities on a more competitive footing within our industry.”
After the transaction, it is expected that former Pfizer stockholders will hold around 56 percent of the combined company and Allergan shareholders will own approximately 44 percent of the combined company.