Pfizer working to sell or spin off infant-nutrition, animal-health units

Pfizer, which is based in Manhattan but has units in the Philadelphia area, said last year it would explore options for its animal health unit and the group that makes infant nutrition products.

The hope was to then concentrate attention on the core pharmaceutical business.

There is some basic logic in that, though the logic gets squishier when those units continually are among the most profitable within the company.

Regardless, there are reports of progress on what Pfizer is doing with both units.

Monday morning, the Financial Times was among those that said Pfizer was discussing plans for what is called a "partial flotation," of the animal health unit. In that scenario, the company would offer up to 19.9 percent of the stock in a separate business unit, hoping to raise $3 billion. Financial analysts suggest that is a way to measure interest in an eventual sale of the whole unit.

The animal health business could be worth about $18 billion.

Meanwhile, two European-based food companies - Danone and Nestle - have put in first-round bids of about $10 billion for the infant-nutrition unit, according to Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg said Nestle is considering buying all of Pfizer’s infant-nutrition assets and then auctioning enough pieces to negate anti-trust concerns. Danone is reportedly weighing a joint bid with Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., and may split the business along geographies or brands.