Hospira eyeing Danone unit, tax savings

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Lake Forest drugmaker Hospira Inc. is reportedly negotiating to buy a division from Danone, a deal that could lead to Hospira moving its legal headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden.

Hospira, a maker of injectable drugs, is talking with France’s Danone SA about buying its medical nutrition unit, a business valued at between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to reports by Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal. Nestle SA is also interested in the medical nutrition business.

“We’re always looking at opportunities in the marketplace to drive shareholder value, and assess them based on many strategic and financial considerations. As a matter of course, we do not comment on specific acquisition opportunities or market speculation,” Hospira spokesman Dan Rosenberg said in an e-mail.

If a deal is made, Hospira could join the list of U.S. companies moving their legal headquarters to Europe to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates. These so-called tax inversions have been especially popular among drugmakers and medical device companies with substantial research and development costs.

AbbVie Inc. announced a $55 billion takeover of specialty drugmaker Shire Plc. as part of plan to expand its drug portfolio and reduce its tax rate from 23 percent to 13 percent. AbbVie and Hospira were both formerly part of North Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories.


Obama could curb tax inversions on his own: former Treasury offical (Reuters)

Obama: Offshore ‘tax inversions’ are unpatriotic (Early & Often)

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