Pfizer's done with tax inversions, but megamergers? Bring 'em on, CEO says

Ian Read

Pfizer CEO Ian Read may be done trying for a tax inversion after his company’s $160 billion Allergan deal fell through. But he isn’t necessarily done trying for a megamerger.

Pfizer’s management team is open to any deals that will create value for shareholders, he said at the Sanford Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference, according to Bloomberg. And that leaves whopper acquisitions on the table.

“If you believe you can reorganize your research into productive smaller units, there is a logic to consolidation of the industry by taking out duplicative expenses,” especially if the two companies can squeeze out some serious savings, Read said, as quoted by the news service.

Pfizer has so far come up short in two straight megamerger attempts. Back in 2014, it struck out on a hostile pursuit of AstraZeneca, thanks to its target’s determination to keep flying solo. And earlier this year, new, stricter inversion rules from the U.S. Treasury scuttled its already agreed-upon Allergan transaction.

The way some industry-watchers see it, though, Pfizer would be better off if it didn’t try to swallow another larger drugmaker--which it’s done plenty of times, with buyouts of Wyeth, Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia in the rearview mirror.

"A company that needs repeated mega-acquisitions to keep afloat is inherently unsustainable," Forbes’ Bernard Munos wrote late last year, noting that Pfizer’s revenue flattens or declines after spiking between major deals.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has jumped into the fray a couple times recently in search of smaller buys. Last month, it agreed to shell out $4.5 billion for California-based Anacor Pharmaceuticals, and rumor has it coveted target Medivation has opened its books to the pharma giant--much to the frustration of hostile bidder Sanofi.

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