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Lilly CEO says he's not interested in Pfizer animal unit

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Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. doesn’t plan to buy Pfizer Inc.’s $3.58 billion animal-health business, CEO John Lechleiter said Wednesday.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read said July 7 that he would sell the animal health and nutrition units of the world’s largest drugmaker. Lilly Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said later that month that Indianapolis-based Lilly was interested in some Pfizer assets, however, Pfizer said it wouldn’t break the business into smaller pieces to sell.

“We don’t think we have to make a large acquisition,” Lilly’s Lechleiter said Wednesday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Innovation and the Economy roundtable in Washington, D.C. “In our animal-health business, we’ve got a pretty good mix of organic growth and growth from smaller acquisitions. I think that’s the approach we’re going to take.”

Lilly's Elanco animal-health business, which is based in Greenfield and has 2,400 employees, is expected to rack up sales this year of $1.7 billion.

Lilly also isn’t interested in New York-based Pfizer’s nutrition business, Lechleiter said.

“We’re going to more or less stay the course with innovative medicines,” he said. “I don’t think you should expect us to do anything around generics or OTC or things of that sort” referring to over-the-counter medicines. Pfizer’s nutrition unit generated $1.87 billion in revenue in 2010.

Lechleiter was among more than a dozen CEOs and university presidents discussing job creation and the economy at the Bloomberg forum.

Joan Campion, a Pfizer spokeswoman, said no decisions have been made about the drugmaker’s units.

“We’re continuing to explore strategic alternatives for our animal-health business, and are evaluating a variety of options, including a sale, spinoff or other transaction,” she said in an e-mail. Campion said the company doesn’t anticipate making an announcement on the units until 2012.

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