NEW YORK (AP) - Pfizer Inc. is near a deal to sell its infant-nutrition business to the Swiss food conglomerate Nestle SA for $9 billion, according to a report Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.
Nestle appears to be beating out a joint bid from Groupe Danone and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. The deal would be one of the largest this year and could be announced as early as next week, according to the Journal report, which cited sources familiar with the matter who were not named.
Nestle is one of the world's largest sellers of infant formula and may face some antitrust hurdles to complete the deal. It would likely have to sell assets in certain markets to win regulatory approval, according to the report.
Pfizer said in July that it would divest its infant-nutrition business and a separate animal-health business unit.
The company may be moving forward with shedding both units. It has reportedly picked JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to manage an initial public offering of the animal-health division, according to the newspaper. But the animal-health unit could also still be put up for sale, following reports that Novartis AG and Bayer AG had recently considered making offers.
Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, has been shedding its non-core businesses as it moves to focus on develop new prescription drugs. Last year it was hit by the expiration of its patent on Lipitor, the cholesterol fighter that's the biggest-selling drug ever to go off patent,
It sold its business unit that makes drugs in capsule forms to KKR & Co. last August for $2.4 billion. Some investors are hoping Pfizer will sell even more businesses, including its unit that sells Advil and other non-prescription consumer health products.
Shares of Pfizer rose 33 cents to close at $22.31 Tuesday.