September 9, 2008 / 9:23 AM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Bayer shares gain on talk of Pfizer interest

(Adds Pfizer no comment, updates share price)

FRANKFURT, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Shares in German drugs and chemicals group Bayer BAYG.DE rose nearly 4 percent on Tuesday on market talk of takeover interest from U.S. rival Pfizer (PFE.N), traders said.

Bayer shares were 3.65 percent higher at 54.62 euros by 1005 GMT, compared with a 0.8 percent rise on the German benchmark DAX .GDAXI index.

Bayer, which has a market capitalisation of around 40 billion euros ($57 billion), declined to comment. A Pfizer spokesman said the New York-based group did not comment on market speculation.

Bayer, which boasts a healthy pipeline of new drugs and an attractive over-the-counter medicines business, has been a rumoured takeover target in the past.

Any acquisition by a pure pharmaceutical company, however, would be complicated, since it would require the break-up of the chemical-drugs hybrid. Bayer is also a top global player in plastics and in agrochemicals.

For Pfizer, buying Bayer would bring an added complication in that the U.S. group only recently sold off its non-prescription drug business to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N).

Pfizer has a history of doing mega-deals but investors have been disappointed by past acquisitions that have failed to curtail its reliance on ageing blockbusters, including cholesterol fighter Lipitor, which goes off patent in 2011.

The company makes $13 billion a year from Lipitor and needs new products to offset sales declines of this and other products.

Pfizer became the global industry leader by buying Pharmacia and Warner-Lambert during the past decade, but its stock is trading at 11-year lows because its laboratories have failed to deliver enough new drugs. (Reporting by Mantik Kusjanto and Ben Hirschler; Editing by Quentin Bryar, Paul Bolding)

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