• Drugmaker could fetch about $2 billion from transaction
  • Sale process is at very early stage, plans could change

Pfizer Inc. is weighing a sale of the pumps and devices business it acquired in last year’s purchase of Hospira Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.

The U.S. drugmaker could fetch about $2 billion from a potential sale, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The process is at a very early stage and the details could change, the people said. Pfizer may also choose not to sell the Hospira unit at this time, they said.

New York-based Pfizer bought Hospira, which makes generic injectable drugs and devices to deliver them, for about $17 billion in a deal that closed in September. The deal bolstered Pfizer’s portfolio of established drugs, including off-patent medicines with slow growth and strong cash flow.

Analysts have speculated that after Hospira’s assets were integrated into the company, Pfizer might split off its entire established drugs unit from the faster-growing “innovative” business that holds many of the company’s newer brand-name drugs. Selling the Hospira devices business would leave a more pure-play drugs unit for a possible spinoff.

A representative for Pfizer declined to comment.

Pfizer agreed in November to combine with Allergan Plc in a $160 billion merger and move its tax address to Ireland. If approved by antitrust authorities, the deal would be the largest ever in the pharmaceutical industry. It would also be the largest so-called tax inversion, in which a U.S. company uses a merger to take a foreign address, cut its tax rate, and access profits held overseas.

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