UPDATED: Board approves Abbott split, effective Jan. 1, 2013

Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) planned split into two separate companies is right on schedule, now that board members have officially voted to approve the plan.

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the company's drug business will be spun out into a separate operation called AbbVie with the ticker symbol ABBV. The Abbott that remains will focus on medical devices, diagnostics, nutritional products and its generics business.

Expectations are high for both operations, but analysts expect Abbott's streamlined focus on medical devices and diagnostics will position it for significant growth down the line--more predictable areas that are poised for robust, reliable expansion as the population ages.

The board's vote took care of a lot of technical stuff involved in the separation. They approved a dividend distribution of all outstanding shares of AbbVie common stock, where Abbott shareholders will gain one share of AbbVie common stock for every single share of Abbott common shares already held. In lieu of factional shares, shareholders will receive cash. Shareholders, as of the close of business on Dec. 12, get to enjoy the dividend distribution, which will be completed Jan. 1.

Abbott offered as much as $7.7 billion in bonds to help support the split.

Editor's note: This story is updated to reflect that fact that Abbott, after its split, will also retain its generics drug business.

- read the release

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