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Medtronic To Buy Irish Medical-Device Manufacturer

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. medical device manufacturer Medtronic announced Sunday night that it has agreed to buy Ireland-based competitor Covidien for $42.9 billion in cash and stock.

The combined company would have its executive offices in Dublin, where it could benefit from Ireland’s lower corporate tax rates. But the merged company would continue to operate in Minneapolis, where Medtronic employs more than 8,000, the companies said in a statement.

Medtronic is paying a 29 percent premium on Covidien’s stock price as of Friday.

The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by medical-device manufacturers. The companies are seeking to expand their offerings and contain costs in response to price curbs forced by the nation’s new health care law.

In April, Zimmer Holdings, an orthopedic device maker, announced that it was buying Biomet in a $13 billion deal.

Medtronic makes pacemakers and insulin pumps, among other products. Covidien specializes in surgical equipment.

As a result of savings from the deal, Medtronic said it would spend an additional $10 billion over the next decade in investments, acquisitions and research and development in the United States.

“The medical technology industry is critical to the U.S. economy, and we will continue to invest and innovate and create well-paying jobs,” Omar Ishrak, Medtronic’s CEO, said in a statement.

Efforts by domestic companies to use mergers to reincorporate overseas for tax reasons have raised concern among some U.S. lawmakers. Ireland taxes corporate income at 12.5 percent, compared with a top marginal rate of 39.6 percent in the United States, according to the tax advisory firm KPMG.

Drug-maker Pfizer recently tried unsuccessfully to acquire U.K.-based Astra-Zeneca. The banana-seller Chiquita agreed to buy an Irish firm, Fyffes, in March.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and 13 other senators introduced a bill in May to restrict the deals.

“These transactions are about tax avoidance, plain and simple,” Levin said in a statement. “Our legislation would clamp down on this loophole to prevent corporations from shifting their tax burden onto their competitors and average Americans.”

On Sunday night, Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton released this statement in response to the announcement:

“Medtronic’s Chairman and CEO, Mr. Omar Ishrak, informed me last night of his company’s plans to acquire an Irish company. As Governor of Minnesota, my primary concerns were this merger’s effects on the Minnesotans currently working at Medtronic, and its implications for the company’s continued growth here.

“During my conversation with Mr. Ishrak and in further discussions today between senior State and Medtronic officials, we were assured that the company intends to keep its operational headquarters here in Minnesota and that no jobs will be lost here due to this transaction. Company officials also told us that Medtronic intends to create over 1,000 new medical technology-related jobs in Minnesota during the next five years, in corporate management, research and development, engineering, and manufacturing. That is tremendous news for Minnesota and evidences the company’s continued commitment to our state.

“Medtronic was founded here 65 years ago by two visionary Minnesotans. They and thousands of dedicated Minnesota employees have built the enterprise into a global leader in medical technology, which has also been an exemplary corporate citizen in our state. I am greatly reassured by Medtronic’s assurances that their commitments to their Minnesota headquarters and their Minnesota employees will continue to grow in the years ahead.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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