Pfizer strikes deal to buy Wyeth

Pedestrians walk past the world headquarters of Pfizer Inc. in New York City

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Scott Jagow: Investment banking may be on life support, but it isn't dead. This morning, two drug companies announced a gigantic deal, partially financed by the bailed-out banks. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America all pitched in to help Pfizer strike a deal to buy Wyeth.

Pfizer makes the cholesterol drug Lipitor. Wyeth makes the anti-depressant Effexor. Both drugs will lose their patents in the next couple years, but until then, they'll keep raking in lots of money. So, what does this deal tell us about the banks' lending situation? Here's Marketplace's Steve Henn.


Steve Henn: Pfizer is buying Wyeth for more than $68 billion. It's paying more than $50 a share for the company -- a big premium over what Wyeth was trading for just last week. To pay for it's purchase, Pfizer is borrowing more than $22 billion, and it's offering Wyeth shareholders a mix of cash and it's own stock.

Hugh Johnson, chief economist at Johnson-Illington Advisors, says this deal could indicate credit markets are thawing:

Hugh Johnson: I think it's always a good sign when someone can borrow $22 billion, but lets not forget that it's Pfizer that's borrowing $22 billion.

Other businesses may not have it so easy.

Johnson: It's the small to mid-size -- lets call them marginal companies -- that's where the problem is.

When it's completed Pfizer's purchase of Wyeth will be the biggest drug industry buyout in more than a decade. The combined company would have 17 blockbuster drugs each bringing in more than a billion dollars a year.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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