Pfizer, Mylan say COVID-19 delays will postpone their Viatris merger

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Pfizer and Mylan have pushed the expected close of their merger to the second half of 2020. (Getty)

With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to hamstring operations, U.S. regulators have warned that major corporate transaction reviews could be held up. Now, thanks to COVID-19 delays, a generics megamerger between Pfizer's Upjohn unit and Mylan has been postponed until the back half of the year.

Pfizer and Mylan delayed the close of their generics megamerger, citing "unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including associated delays in the regulatory review process," Mylan said in a release Thursday.

The companies now expect the merger to close in the second half of 2020, Mylan said, with no expected changes to the terms of the deal.

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"Mylan, Pfizer and Upjohn are working closely on integration planning and are making significant progress toward Day 1 readiness," Mylan said. "Together the companies continue to progress toward a successful close."

Also on Thursday, Mylan said it would postpone its annual meeting scheduled for late April until June 30.

RELATED: AbbVie, Allergan merger may face regulatory delay due to COVID-19 despite drug sell-off: report

The Upjohn-Mylan deal delay is the first instance of pharma pushing merger deadlines in response to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice warned that drugmakers' potential inability to provide employees and documents for review could require deadline extensions for merger reviews.

AbbVie, which is working to close its $63 billion megamerger with Allergan, said it still expects to wrap up review of the deal in May after reaching a "consent agreement" with the FTC last week to offload late-stage gastrointestinal candidate brazikumab and two pancreatic enzymes. Earlier this month, that sale won approval in the EU, where regulators required the divestiture of brazikumab alone for the merger's approval.

RELATED: Pfizer, Mylan vets tapped for Viatris board, C-suite as merger nears

In late February, Pfizer and Mylan announced their filled-out C-suite at the merged company, dubbed Viatris, including a raft of former leaders at the two companies.

Viatris will appoint current Pfizer board member W. Don Cornwell as well as eight current Mylan directors: JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Neil Dimick, Melina Higgins, Harry Korman, Rajiv Malik, Richard Mark, Mark Parrish and Pauline van der Meer Mohr. Malik currently serves as Mylan's president and will keep that role at Viatris, Pfizer said.

Those nine will join Ian Read, Pfizer's former CEO and executive chairman; Pfizer board member James Kilts; Mylan executive chairman Robert Coury, who will retain that position at Viatris; and Michael Goettler, who was named Viatris CEO. Read, Cromwell and Kilts will step down from their roles at Pfizer to move over the new company, which is under regulatory review with a merger close date of mid-2020, Pfizer said.

Additionally, Upjohn CFO Sanjeev Narula will move to Viatris in the same role, bringing 16 years of experience at Pfizer with him.

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