UPDATE 1-Bayer makes non-binding offer for Pfizer unit - paper

Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:44pm EDT

March 15 (Reuters) - Bayer AG has made a non-binding offer for the animal health business of Pfizer Inc , even though it believes a spin-off is more likely, a German paper reported in an article to be published in its Friday edition.

Bayer's offer is based on incomplete data and is at an early stage, Financial Times Deutschland reported, citing a letter sent to supervisory board members by Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers.

Pfizer CEO Ian Read told Reuters in an interview on Monday that a spin-off was more likely for animal health.

Speculation about a possible sale of animal health, which analysts believe could be worth $15 billion to $20 billion, was fuelled last week by reports that Novartis AG had made an approach that was rebuffed by Pfizer and that Bayer was sounding out debt financing options.

Bayer, Germany's largest drugmaker, declined to comment on Thursday.

Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion, in an emailed statement to Reuters, did not acknowledge any overtures from Bayer, but said Pfizer's exploration of "strategic alternatives for Pfizer's animal health business is ongoing."

"We're currently pursuing the activities associated with evaluating all options, however we believe a spin-off is more likely than other options," she said.

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