Pfizer to spin off its animal health unit, calling it Zoetis

Pfizer said Thursday morning that it would spin off its animal health unit and call the standalone company Zoetis.

However, Pfizer will maintain control, so it's unclear how independent the new entity will be or how it will help Pfizer overall.

The name is pronounced zō-EH-tis, and the company said in a statement, is rooted "in zo, which is familiar in commonly known words such as zoo and zoology. It derives from zoetic, meaning 'pertaining to life,' and signals the company’s dedication to improving the health of animals across species and around the world based on the fundamental understanding that animal and human health are inextricably linked."

Pfizer said it will file paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, perhaps to eventually sell stock though it would be a minority stake.

“Pfizer Animal Health is a dynamic business with strong fundamentals, an expanding and loyal direct customer base and a proven management team,” said Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer, Pfizer. “We are on track to create a standalone Animal Health company by our previously stated target of July 2013. Our focus continues to be on taking the actions that will generate the greatest after-tax value for our shareholders, with share repurchases remaining the case to beat in allocating cash proceeds from the separation.”