Feb 2, 2013

USA - Pfizer unit Zoetis makes strong market debut

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NEW YORK: Zoetis, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's animal-health division, made a dramatic debut on Wall Street Friday as the biggest initial public offering since Facebook.

The shares, trading under the symbol ZTS on the New York Stock Exchange, soared 19.27 per cent to close at US$31.01 a share.

The shares had climbed 22 per cent higher in morning trade.

Zoetis generated heavy interest from investors after the group indicated Thursday that it had raised its initial public offering price to US$26 after initially proposing a range of US$22-$25.

The IPO, with 86.1 million shares offered, raised US$2.24 billion. It leaves Pfizer holding an 83 per cent stake in the unit.

An additional 12.9 million shares of Zoetis could be sold in a supplementary offering. If the additional allocation is sold, Pfizer's holding will be reduced to about 80 per cent.

"With the Zoetis initial public offering, we are creating the largest stand-alone company fully devoted to animal health medicines and vaccines," said Pfizer chief executive Ian Read.

"For Pfizer, we are better positioned to focus on our core business as an innovative biopharmaceutical company, by unlocking value from the animal health business that will return value to Pfizer shareholders," Read said in a statement.

Under the public offering, Zoetis will trade independently of Pfizer on the New York Stock Exchange, but will still be majority-owned by the pharmaceutical giant. Five of the nine members of the Zoetis board currently work for Pfizer.

Zoetis reported revenues of US$4.2 billion in 2011 and US$3.2 billion through the first nine months of 2012. Its profits during these periods were US$245 million and US$446 million, respectively.

Pfizer had announced plans to undertake the offering in June and filed its official papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August.

Zoetis's market debut was the biggest since Facebook's IPO on May 18, 2012, which raised US$16.02 billion, the second-biggest US IPO in history.

- AFP/jc

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