NEW YORK – Pfizer Inc. announced plans to file a registration statement in preparation for a potential initial public offering (IPO) for the company’s Animal Health business. Pfizer said the new company will be called Zoetis, which is derived from “zoetic”, meaning “pertaining to life”.

Pfizer announced the spin-off amid speculation about a possible sale of company's animal health business, which analysts estimated between $15-20 billion.

“Pfizer Animal Health is a dynamic business with strong fundamentals, an expanding and loyal direct customer base and a proven management team,” said Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer, Pfizer. “We are on track to create a standalone Animal Health company by our previously stated target of July 2013. Our focus continues to be on taking the actions that will generate the greatest after-tax value for our shareholders, with share repurchases remaining the case to beat in allocating cash proceeds from the separation.”

Zoetis will build on the work of Pfizer Animal Health which includes the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of a diverse portfolio of animal vaccines, medicines, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics and genetic tests to prevent and treat disease in livestock and companion animals, the company said. Pfizer's animal health products are marketed in more than 120 countries, and more than 9,000 workers are employed in the animal health business.

The business has an extensive research and development network and holds leading market positions across major geographic regions, including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific. Revenues in 2011 were approximately $4.2 billion, according to Pfizer.