Pfizer Considers Spinning Off or Selling Consumer Health Unit

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The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on Tuesday that it had begun a strategic review of its consumer health care division that could result in the unit, whose products include Advil, Centrum supplements and ChapStick, being spun off or sold.

The unit, which Pfizer said it could ultimately choose to keep, is one of the largest health care businesses of its type, with sales worth $3.4 billion in 2016 — about 6 percent of the drugmaker’s overall revenue.

“Although there is a strong connection between consumer health care and elements of our core biopharmaceutical businesses, it is also distinct enough from our core business that there is potential for its value to be more fully realized outside the company,” Ian Read, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said in a news release.

The announcement on Tuesday came about a year after Pfizer said that, following an “extensive evaluation,” it had decided not to split what it calls its Innovative Health and Essential Health divisions into separate publicly traded companies.

That announcement came after Pfizer’s ultimately unsuccessful efforts to acquire the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Allergan, a drugmaker based in Dublin.

AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer’s bid as undervaluing the company. The attempted acquisition of Allergan — a $152 billion deal that Pfizer pursued to lower its tax bill in the United States — was abandoned after the Obama administration introduced new rules that removed the tax benefits of such so-called corporate inversions.

Pfizer said any decisions about the future of the consumer health care unit would come next year. It has engaged Centerview Partners, Guggenheim Securities and Morgan Stanley as advisers for the review.