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Bristol, DuPont near deal?
June 6, 2001: 11:08 a.m. ET

Exclusive talks reportedly under way for up to $8B sale of DuPont drug unit
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has moved closer to buying DuPont Co.'s pharmaceuticals business for $7.5 billion to $8 billion, according to a report Wednesday.

Quoting unnamed people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal said DuPont agreed to exclusive negotiations with Bristol-Myers to try to strike a deal in the next few days. DuPont has authorized a transaction with Bristol-Myers if the two parties can resolve outstanding differences, the report said.

A Bristol Myers spokeswoman declined any comment on the matter.

"We are continuing to evaluate all options," a DuPont spokesman said, adding that the company anticipates a decision sometime this summer on unloading its pharmaceutical business.

Bristol-Myers stock fell while DuPont (DD: down $0.30 to $46.40, Research, Estimates), one of 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, rose in morning trading.

Several remaining issues could scotch a deal, the paper said, noting that while Bristol-Myers (BMY: down $0.99 to $56.92, Research, Estimates) is clearly in the lead to buy the business, a contract has not been completed.

A rival bidder also could surface to trump Bristol-Myers's bid, such as Novartis AG of Switzerland, the paper said. It added that DuPont's board has informed the bidders that if it isn't satisfied with the price tag, it will spin off the drug business in a transaction meant to be tax free to shareholders.

Bristol-Myers has about $2.9 billion cash on hand and is due to receive nearly $5 billion from selling its Clairol unit to Procter & Gamble (PG: Research, Estimates), the newspaper noted.

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DuPont's drug brands include Coumadin, an anti-blood clot medicine, Sustiva, an HIV drug, and Sinemet for Parkinson's disease. If Bristol-Myers buys the business, it would be its second-biggest deal ever, behind its 1989 purchase of Squibb. graphic