Can You Say "Zoetis"? Pfizer Animal Health Could Become a Publicly-Traded Corporation

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Quest. Strongid. Dormosedan.

Try moving around the equine health world without running into the names of those--and many other--products marketed under the banner of Pfizer Animal Health. At the same time, try to navigate through horse and veterinary charities, event sponsorships and prizes without checking off dozens of Pfizer projects.

You can't do it.

But all that was about to change when Pfizer announced last year that it planned to sell its animal health division. Who would buy it? Indeed, who could buy it? The horse and veterinary industries worldwide were on stand-by for news. Change was in the wind...

Pfizer Animal Health supports many equine and veterinary organizations and events, such as last year's Horse Health Cup series at Spruce Meadows.

Pfizer Animal Health supports many equine and veterinary organizations and events, such as last year's Horse Health Cup series at Spruce Meadows.

We received news last week that the wait is over, but a buyer has not been found. Instead, Pfizer is proposing to "spin off" its animal health division and create an entirely new freestanding corporation. And you'll be able to buy shares in it on the stock market, just as you can now buy shares in Pfizer proper.

The new company would be called Zoetis.

If all goes according to plan, the new company will build on the Pfizer Animal Health legacy of leadership in "the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of a diverse portfolio of animal vaccines, medicines, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics and genetic tests to prevent and treat disease in livestock and companion animals", according to last week's announcement.

Pfizer Animal Health has more than 9,000 employees and markets products in more than 120 countries. Revenues in 2011 were approximately $4.2 billion. Equine health and care products probably represent a fraction of those statistics, but once you look around the horse world, you see that even that fraction makes Pfizer a dominant source of support and innovation in the field.

In recent years, Pfizer acquired veterinary and horse health assets of the Fort Dodge and Wyeth brands.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pfizer's animal-health unit could be valued in the range of $15 billion to $18 billion in a separation from its parent.

The name Zoetis has its root in zo, which is familiar in commonly known words such as zoo and zoology. It derives from zoetic, meaning "pertaining to life," and signals the company's dedication to improving the health of animals across species and around the world based on the fundamental understanding that animal and human health are inextricably linked.

In 2011, Pfizer Animal Health invested $7 million in a new equine research center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which it describes on its web site as "the worldwide hub for research and development of equine vaccines and novel therapeutics".

In Kalamazoo County, 700 people are employed by divisions of Pfizer Animal Health, including the equine facility, according to a report on the news web site, MLive.com. Thousands more in western Michigan are employed by Pfizer, the current parent company, but are in jobs unrelated to animal health.

Don't be surprised if you start hearing jokes about Kalama-zoetis. If the plan goes through and Pfizer Animal Health remains intact under a new name with deep roots in Michigan, the local people will have plenty to smile about--and the horse world may hope to be able to continue its cordial relationship with a generous sponsor and supplier.

To learn more:

Kalamazoo regional business leader discusses possible new Pfizer Animal Health role in region

Pfizer Animal Health press release about possible new company