(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc, the largest U.S. drugmaker, said on Thursday it aims to sell its world headquarters buildings in midtown Manhattan by the end of 2017 and begin moving into more modern facilities in Manhattan no sooner than the first half of 2019.
"This move is being driven by the significant investment that would be required to bring the buildings to modern standards," Pfizer said in a statement.
Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion said the company notified employees of the plans on Wednesday. The drugmaker intends to lease rather than buy a new headquarters, she told Reuters.
Pfizer's headquarters include two buildings in midtown Manhattan with about 1 million square feet of space. Pfizer began occupying the buildings at 235 and 219 East 42nd Street in 1961. A newer complex would have more work space and room for collaboration, Campion said.
Pfizer, founded in 1849 in New York City's borough of Brooklyn, said it has not yet chosen the new location.
A large majority of headquarters-based employees will move to the more modern facility, Pfizer said. Some could be reassigned to other sites in the metropolitan area.
Pfizer's plans follow its decision in April to abandon its proposed $160 billion purchase of Botox-maker Allergan Plc. The deal would have moved the company's tax address to Dublin, thereby sharply lowering its effective tax rate.
Pfizer terminated the deal after the U.S. Treasury proposed new regulations that would have removed many of the tax advantages.
Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler