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Pfizer offers transfers to workforce

Pfizer has offered job transfers to a number of employees at its soon-to-close Ann Arbor manufacturing facility

Pfizer has offered job transfers to about 1,000 of the 2,100 employees at its Ann Arbor manufacturing facility which is due to close in 2008.

A company spokesperson said that about 500 workers have accepted transfers, while the other 500 are in the process of considering the offer or have rejected, according to Pfizer's director of corporate media relations, Rick Chambers.

The New York state regional economic-development group, Ann Arbor Spark, has led a comprehensive effort to retain as many of Pfizer's workers as possible by setting up training for those interested in start-ups and connecting them to sources of funding and space. The University of Michigan also is targeting Pfizer staff for teaching and research positions, according to the firm.

Pfizer revealed back in January that it would close its research campus on Plymouth Road by the end of 2008, as part of its global cost-cutting and restructuring plans to reduce the total workforce by 10,000 and save USD 2bn a year.

The world's largest pharmaceutical firm faces major losses when its best-selling cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor (atorvastatin) goes off-patent in 2011. Lipitor accounts for approximately 20 per cent of the firm's total revenue, while its replacement torcetrapib failed in late-stage clinical trials.

According to local media reports, the majority of the Ann Arbor transfers will go to Pfizer's operations in Groton, Connecticut, with smaller numbers going to La Jolla, California; St Louis, Missouri; and Sandwich, England.

Pfizer's cholesterol drug research subsidiary, Esperion Therapeutics, was closed on 11 May. Sixty jobs were lost or transferred to Groton and the research performed at Esperion has been transferred to other operational units. Pfizer acquired Esperion in 2004 for USD 1.3bn.

When the Ann Arbor campus is closed, Pfizer will have 4,000 employees remaining in Michigan. The operational units there will focus on drug manufacturing, veterinary-medicine research and development, sales and support groups.

Pfizer also revealed that it will hire a national broker to conduct the sale of the Ann Arbor facility, which is said to have a market value of more than USD 530m. The company is also converting some of its empty laboratory and office space in La Jolla into an incubator for biotech start-ups.

30th May 2007

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