Despite filing a complaint earlier to investigate anticompetitive concerns, the Federal Trade Commission unanimously OK'd the $90 billion merger of Pfizer Inc. and Warner-Lambert Co. The deal is expected to create the world's largest pharmaceutical company, with 90,000 employees. But under terms of the approval, the firms will divest themselves of products designed to treat Alzheimer's, cancer, depression, and head lice. The merged company will still make the fast-selling drugs Lipitor and Viagra.
As expected, a new global media powerhouse in which French communications/utilities giant Vivendi SA will merge with Canada's Seagram Co. and its Universal Pictures and Polygram Records divisions was announced in Paris. The deal, for $33.7 billion in stock, also calls for Vivendi to assume $7 billion in debt. Less certain was the role Vivendi's Canal Plus pay-TV unit would play, however. While it stands to gain 4,000 titles from Seagram's film library to show to its 14 million European subscribers, traders said it cannot legally be included in the merger.
Barely a month after failing in its bid to buy the US advertising group Young & Rubicam, Publicis SA of Paris said it will acquire another rival, Saatchi & Saatchi, for $1.9 billion in stock. The combined company will be the industry's fifth largest, with assets of $6.3 billion and annual billings of $2.1 billion. Saatchi & Saatchi, based in London, has such clients as Procter & Gamble, Toyota, du Pont, and General Mills.
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