(Adds closing price)
By Olivia Oran and Ransdell Pierson
Feb 1 (Reuters) - Shares of Pfizer Inc’s animal health subsidiary Zoetis Inc, which sells drug products and other services for livestock and pets, closed up 20 percent to $31.01 in their New York Stock Exchange debut on Friday.
Shares opened at $31.50 after the Madison, New Jersey-based company’s stock was priced at $26, above an expected range of $22 to $25 a share.
Zoetis raised $2.2 billion in the largest initial public offering by a U.S. company since Facebook Inc’s IPO in May.
The offering comes as Zoetis’ parent firm, Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, divests its nonpharmaceuticals units to focus on its core prescription drugs business.
Last April, Pfizer sold its infant nutrition business to Nestle SA for $11.9 billion.
Zoetis, which has annual sales of about $4.2 billion and 9,500 employees worldwide, is the largest player in the $22 billion animal health industry. It sells vaccines and diagnostics, among other medicines. About two-thirds of its sales are from products and services for livestock.
Pfizer will control roughly 80 percent of Zoetis after the IPO, which accounts for 413.9 million Class B shares. The drugmaker is expected to divest its stake within 18 months, and return much of the proceeds to Pfizer shareholders in the form of stock repurchases.
Zoetis’ CEO, Juan Ramon Alaix, had been president of Pfizer’s animal health unit.
Alaix, citing industry data, on Friday said sales of products for livestock are expected to have compound annual growth of 6 percent for the next five years, while product sales for companion animals should grow 5 percent each year.
“Our industry’s growth is steady and predictable and we believe Zoetis can grow in line with or faster than the market,” he said in an interview.
Sales of animal health products cannot help but grow because the world population, now about 7 billion, is expected to reach 9 billion in 2050, the CEO said.
“We will be able to provide products that increase productivity related to livestock, and to products for more people adopting pets,” Alaix said.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Corp and Morgan Stanley led the offering. (Editing by Bernadette Baum, Matthew Lewis and James Dalgleish)