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Abbott board paves way for split of company

(Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories said on Wednesday that its board approved the planned split of its pharmaceuticals business into a separate company and that Abbott investors would receive one share of the new company's common stock for every share of Abbott stock they own.

The new entity, AbbVie, which will be an independent company with Abbott retaining no ownership stake, will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on January 2, under the ticker symbol ABBV, the company said.

Abbott is keeping the medical devices, diagnostics and nutritionals businesses. AbbVie will be a pharmaceuticals company buoyed by the nearly $9 billion-a-year rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, and will take with it the experimental drugs in Abbott's developmental pipeline, including promising new hepatitis C treatments.

Abbott shares closed up 51 cents at $64.57 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editung by Jan Paschal)