P

fizer’s $68 billion merger with Wyeth has moved closer after the deal received the backing of regulators in China and Australia.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and China’s Ministry of Commerce have both given the deal the green light, based on Pfizer’s commitment to divest certain animal health assets in the two countries. Pfizer chief executive Jeff Kindler described the approvals as “significant milestones”.

He noted that the transaction still remains subject to regulatory approval in the USA and Canada but Pfizer “expects to obtain these approvals shortly”. The New York-based behemoth hopes to conclude the deal early in the fourth quarter.

Last week Pfizer and Wyeth agreed to sell parts of their animal health business to Boehringer Ingelheim, including animal vaccine lines in the USA and Canada, as well as a wide range of pharmaceuticals for pets, cattle and other species. The two prospective partners hope that deal will be enough to satisfy the US and Canadian competition regulators.

The European Commission granted regulatory approval for the transaction in July, subject to the commitment to divest certain animal health assets, “some of which” are included in the sale to Boehringer,