Procter & Gamble Votes to Pursue Warner-Lambert, American Home: Report

The consumer-products giant plans to acquire the two big, embattled drugmakers, a wire service reports.
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(

Updated from 5:32 p.m. EST.

)

Procter & Gamble's

(PG) - Get Report

board approved plans to pursue an acquisition of both

American Home Products

(AHP)

and

Warner-Lambert

(WLA)

, a person familiar with the situation told

Bloomberg

.

An announcement could come as early as tomorrow, with formal negotiations to begin shortly and a transaction unveiled in as little as a week or two, the wire service said.

Bloomberg's

source said Procter & Gamble would be interested in a stock swap for the two drug companies.

Spokespeople for P&G and American Home separately declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Warner-Lambert couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

As

TheStreet.com/NYTimes.com

joint newsroom reported

Friday, speculation has raged for the past week that P&G might seek a takeover of Warner-Lambert, American Home or both. Rumors of a pending deal sent P&G's shares tumbling nearly 9% Friday.

After agreeing to a merger in early November with American Home, Warner-Lambert has been locked in a battle with

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, which made its own hostile bid for the company. P&G is seen as a possible savior of Warner-Lambert, which reluctantly decided on Jan. 13 to negotiate with Pfizer.

A purchase of American Home and Warner-Lambert would make consumer-products giant P&G one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, rivaling the planned merger partners

Glaxo

(GLX)

and

SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

.

The deal would be by far the largest acquisition ever for P&G, which makes of Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers but now gets only 2% of revenue from pharmaceuticals. Its previous largest buy was last year's purchase of pet-food maker

Iams

for $2.3 billion.