April 25, 2012 / 2:30 PM / 8 years ago

Bayer eyes multi-billion euro acquisition -sources

FRANKFURT, April 25 (Reuters) - German drugs and plastics maker Bayer AG is close to making a multi-billion euro acquisition to bolster its healthcare division, three people close to the planned transaction said.

“A big announcement is imminent,” one of the sources said, declining to specify the name of the target.

Bayer recently sounded out its debt financing options with banks to prepare for takeover opportunities such as one that may arise from Pfizer Inc’s mooted exit from veterinary medicine, people familiar with the matter had said.

In late March, Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers said: “Every company of our size is looking for acquisition opportunities. You have to do it to remain competitive.”

He has said his M&A focus would be on the healthcare and the genetically-modified seeds industries.

CEO Dekkers, who has a track record of big M&A deals like the creation of lab equipment maker Thermo Fisher, joined Bayer in 2011 and investors have been scouring for clues ever since as to where he plans to take the 148 year-old German drugmaker.

“Dekkers is keen to do something and it could happen within the next couple of days,” one of the sources said.

A spokesman for Bayer, which is scheduled to announce first-quarter results on Thursday, declined to comment.

Bayer has been said to be weighing a bid for Pfizer’s animal health unit, but Pfizer is leaning toward offering all or a stake in the unit to its own shareholders rather than selling it outright, because of a roughly $5 billion tax bill as well as antitrust scrutiny that an outright sale would trigger.

Bayer has said repeatedly that in case of a larger takeover it would exhaust all debt and equity financing options before considering a sale of its MaterialScience unit, which is the world’s largest maker of plastics for car lights and sports goggles and of chemicals for padding and insulation foam.

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