Pfizer Inc. has been thwarted for the second time in less than two years in its pursuit of a transformative, tax-powered deal to position the biggest U.S. drugmaker for long-term growth. The Obama administration has pretty much made sure there won’t be a third try.
Pfizer and Allergan Plc officially walked away from their $160 billion merger on Tuesday, an abrupt end to what would have been the largest-ever deal in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also a remarkable turning point in the white hot, election-cycle debate in the U.S. over corporate tax avoidance.
Pfizer’s planned mega-merger with Allergan was historic in scale and ambition. The deal would have burnished Pfizer’s drug portfolio and created a pharma giant, with a strong lineup ranging from advanced cancer treatments to generics. Yet it was also a tie-up designed to reap tax savings, a ton of them. And if the new company were to establish itself abroad with a lower tax rate, a process often called an inversion, it would have been the largest ever such move.