Pfizer ‘hopeful’ of selling plants

PHARMACEUTICAL giant Pfizer said yesterday that it is very hopeful of being able to sell off two of its Cork plants, with the result of little or no job losses among 480 staff.

A company spokeswoman confirmed it is in talks with “a number of parties which have indicated an active interest” in the plants at Loughbeg and Dunkettle/Little Island.

In February 2007, Pfizer made the shock announcement it was to undertake some rationalisation due to overcapacity.

The company had chosen to close its operations at Loughbeg, where 300 are employed, and at Dunkettle/Little Island, which employs a further 180.

This was to be done on a phased basis — from the end of 2008 and into 2009 — if buyers could not be found for the two plants. The closures were to streamline Pfizer operations.

Pfizer said at the time that it wanted to sell off both the plants as “going concerns”.

“We are continuing to actively market the sites and a number of parties have indicated an active interest. We cannot say at this stage who they are because of commercial sensitivity,” said a Pfizer spokeswoman.

She added in the past, Pfizer had completed a number of successful sell-offs of some of its plants in the USA and Europe and the company remained “determined” to sell both the Loughbeg and Dunkettle/Little Island plants as going concerns, thus doing its best to preserve the jobs of its workforce.

Negotiations are ongoing, but it is understood that one way or another Pfizer will have to make a decision on the future of both plants before the end of the summer. “We are very focused on trying to find buyers for the plants,” added the spokeswoman.

When the news was originally broken, a number of employees at the plants were not overly concerned, believing that even in the worst case scenario they would be able to find alternative employment with the US-owned biopharmaceutical giant, Amgen.

However, it now seems increasingly unlikely that company will be able to fulfil its promise to create 1,100 jobs at Carrigtwohill.

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