CHICAGO (CBS) — Abbott Laboratories is splitting in two.

There’s word this morning the North Chicago-based company will divide its operations with one focusing on pharmaceuticals and the other on medical products.

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The new spinoff will sell Abbott’s branded pharmaceuticals, including the blockbuster arthritis and immune-disorder drug Humira. That business will be led by Abbott’s Richard Gonzalez. He now heads the company’s pharmaceutical business.

The new drug company would have annual revenue of about $18 billion, Abbott said, based on 2011 estimates.

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Abbott CEO Miles White will continue to lead the rest of the diversified medical products company. It markets medical implants, diagnostic tests, generic drugs and baby formula. This company will retain the Abbott name and would have annual revenue of about $22 billion. The branded drug company hasn’t been named yet.

The company said the split would allow investors to value the companies on their distinct characteristics. Shares of the new company will be distributed to Abbott shareholders in a tax-free transaction, Abbott said.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report