Bayer makes prelim offer for Pfizer's animal health unit

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers thinks Pfizer ($PFE) is most likely to spin off its animal health unit. But the German company made a preliminary offer anyway, Dow Jones reports, citing the Financial Times Deutschland.

Apparently, FT Deutschland got a hold of a letter Dekkers sent to board members about the offer, which said Bayer's bid is based on incomplete data and comes at an early phase. Dekkers also noted that he believes that Pfizer will opt to take the unit public, rather than sell it. The FTD cited experts saying the spinoff talk may be a tactic for pushing up the price on an outright sale.

As Reuters notes, rumors flew last week that Bayer was mulling an offer for the unit and lining up potential financing. Novartis ($NVS) was also said to have made a bid Pfizer rejected. Since then, Pfizer CEO Ian Read (photo) told the news service that a spinoff was likely for that unit; he told the Financial Times that he's aiming to divest that business between June 2012 and June 2013.

Pfizer's Joan Campion told Reuters that the company's look at "strategic alternatives for Pfizer's animal health business is ongoing." Campion said Pfizer is "evaluating all options" but "we believe a spinoff is more likely than other options."

- see the Dow Jones story
- get more from Reuters
- check out the FTD piece