Abbott chief says biopharma ops not for sale (at bargain price)

Ever since Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) announced plans to spin off its pharma business into a separate company, analysts have been buzzing about the pros and cons of a possible buyout. So when Abbott CEO Miles White stood up today to address a Financial Times conference in London, they paid particularly close attention to White's circuitous nondenial that a buyout could be worked out--for the right price.

First, he made it clear that there's no "for sale" sign planted on the pharma company's front lawn. "Is one or other (of the two companies) an acquisition candidate? The answer is 'no,'" he told attendees, according to Reuters. But, of course, White left the door open for anyone out there willing to come to him with a checkbook in hand and an offer he couldn't refuse.

Split in half, the two units would be worth in the range of $40 billion to $45 billion, he estimated. "We're not offering them for sale ... somebody would have to have an awful lot of cash and they'd have to have a 'yes' from a CEO and that would be a tough 'yes' to get."

In the meantime, as Bloomberg notes, White also talked up plans to do more R&D work in emerging markets, a favorite new playing field for the world's Big Pharma companies.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the Bloomberg item