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Reports: Pfizer Close To Selling Infant Nutrition Business To Nestle

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Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. (PFE: Quote) is close to a deal to sell its infant nutrition business to Nestle SA (NSTR.L, NSRGY.PK) for more than $10 billion and a deal may be announced as early as Monday, reports said.

The purchase will enable the Swiss food giant to expand its formula business worldwide with particular benefit in China. China is one major market where Nestle does not have a leading marketshare.

Baby food products market is estimated to have had a value of $40.8 billion last year. Sales of baby food products are expected to grow 6 percent between 2011 and 2016.

Pfizer had said last year that it was divesting its animal health unit and infant nutrition business to focus on its core business.

Pfizer is said to be planning an initial public offering for its animal health unit. The drugmaker has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley to aid in the transaction.

Reports had said last week that Pfizer was close to a deal to sell the infant nutrition unit and an announcement could be made in the coming week. While Nestle was the preferred bidder, France's Danone SA (DANOY.PK) also made a joint bid with Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN).

Danone had reportedly said last week that it is not likely to win the bid. Pfizer was believed to be keeping Danone in the bidding process. The French food giant also bid about $11 billion, Bloomberg said.

Nestle may have to sell assets in some markets to win antitrust approval for the deal. However, the magnitude of such divestments are not clear now.

PFE settled on Friday at $22.56, up $0.23 or 1.01 percet, from the previous close.

Nestle closed lower by 0.17 percent in Zurich on Friday at 57.10 euros on a volume of 14.3 million shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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