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Nestle Wins Clearance in China for Pfizer-Unit Purchase

Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, won regulatory approval in China for its $11.9 billion acquisition of Pfizer Inc.’s infant-nutrition unit.

Chinese authorities cleared the deal this week, Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke said today at the inauguration of Nestle’s health-science institute in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Nestle agreed in April to buy Pfizer’s baby-food business, edging out rival Danone. The acquisition will help the Swiss company, already the top seller of infant-nutrition products, regain traction in the Chinese baby-food market, where it has been losing market share.

Bulcke also said today that Nestle has no plans to recombine its health-science and nutrition businesses after placing them under the same leadership this week.

“There is no intention to put it altogether,” the CEO said at the press briefing.

Nestle said Oct. 30 that Luis Cantarell, the health-science head, would also run its nutrition business after the current chief, Kurt Schmidt, resigned. Nestle set up the health-science unit in January 2011 to combine the company’s existing medical nutrition business with investments in start-ups. The division is working on nutrition products aimed at helping conditions ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.

Schmidt’s departure caps a decade during which Nestle has repeatedly organized and reformed a business central to its strategy of being the world’s “leading nutrition, health and wellness” company. Cantarell ran the nutrition unit from 2001 to 2005 and has worked more than three decades at Nestle.

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