The rumours were right and Pfizer has just confirmed that it has acquired Wyeth in a $68 billion deal, thus creating "the world's premier biopharmaceutical company".

The New York-based giant said that the cash-and-stock transaction, currently valued at $50.19 per share, will create "one of the most diversified companies in the global health care industry". It will operate through what Pfizer calls "patient-centric businesses that match the speed and agility of small, focused enterprises with the benefits of a global organisation’s scale and resources".

The deal will be financed through a combination of cash, debt and stock, Pfizer noted, adding that a consortium of banks (see today's earlier story on the deal) has provided commitments for $22.5 billion in debt. The Wyeth purchase is expected to be accretive to Pfizer’s earnings in the second full year after closing and should yield cost savings of $4 billion by the third year.

Chief executive Jeffrey Kindler said the combination "provides a powerful opportunity to transform our industry". He added that it will be the leader in in human, animal and consumer health and "its geographic presence in most of the world’s developed and developing countries will be unrivalled.” His counterpart at Wyeth, Bernard Poussot, said that the firms are highly complementary businesses and "we believe we can better execute our strategy and can accomplish far more together in the years ahead than either company could have achieved on its own.”

Press and analyst conferences are being held later today and PharmaTimes World News will have full coverage and analysis of the day's proceedings in tomorrow's elert.