Pfizer unit Zoetis makes strong market debut

Zoetis, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's animal-health division, made a dramatic debut on Wall Street Friday as the biggest initial public offering since Facebook.

At around 1840 GMT, shares of the new equity had soared to $31.25, a hefty 20.2 percent above its introductory price of $26 a share under the "ZTS" symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.

The jump means the Zoetis offering, with 86.1 million shares, is valued at nearly $2.7 billion. The offering will leave Pfizer with 83 percent ownership of Zoetis.

Under the public offering, Zoetis will trade independently of Pfizer on the New York Stock Exchange, but will still be majority-owned by the pharmaceutical giant. Five of the nine members of the Zoetis board currently work for Pfizer.

Zoetis generated heavy interest from investors after the group indicated Thursday that it would raise its IPO price to $26 after initially proposing a price in the $22-$25 range.

An additional 12.8 million shares of Zoetis could be sold in a supplementary offering. If the additional allocation is sold, Pfizer will own 80 percent of Zoetis.

"With the Zoetis initial public offering, we are creating the largest standalone company fully devoted to animal health medicines and vaccines," said Pfizer chief executive Ian Read.

"For Pfizer, we are better positioned to focus on our core business as an innovative biopharmaceutical company, by unlocking value from the animal health business that will return value to Pfizer shareholders," Read said in a statement.

Zoetis reported revenues of $4.2 billion in 2011 and $3.2 billion through the first nine months of 2012. Its profits during these periods were $245 million and $446 million, respectively.

Pfizer had announced plans to undertake the offering in June and filed its official papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August.

Zoetis's market debut was the biggest since Facebook's IPO on May 18, 2012, which gave the social networking giant a market value of $104 billion.

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