French healthcare group Sanofi, which employs 700 people in the Republic, is in exclusive talks to sell its Zentiva European generics drugs arm to private equity firm Advent International for €1.9bn.
Between the former Genzyme plant in Waterford, which it acquired as part of a global deal seven years ago, and a facility in west Dublin, Sanofi employs about 700 people.
Sanofi said the sale was expected to be completed before the end of the year, and Advent’s offer was binding and fully financed.
The €1.9bn price tag is the so-called enterprise value, which includes equity and debt.
The planned Zentiva sale follows a move this week by Shire, which also employs hundreds in Ireland, to sell its oncology business to France’s Servier.
Sanofi has been reshaping its business in recent months, spending more than €13bn to buy biotech company Ablynx and US haemophilia specialist Bioverativ, but also selling off some assets.
This week, it sold some brands to Charterhouse Capital Partners’ Cooper-Vemedia drugs manufacturing arm for €158m.
“Following a comprehensive review of strategic options for our generics unit in Europe, we have determined that transferring this business to Advent is the best option to ensure its long-term success,” said Sanofi chief executive Olivier Brandicourt.
Sanofi shares rose slightly to value the company at €83.7bn.
“The sale price is decent, but nothing that extraordinary. Sanofi will probably re-invest the proceeds in looking to make pharma or biotech acquisitions. They are looking to strengthen their pipeline, which is a bit weak at the moment,” said Jerome Schupp, fund manager at Geneva-based Prime Partners.
The planned sale of Zentiva began in October after Sanofi spent more than a year carving out the division to create a stand-alone company that could be sold to one of its competitors or to an investment fund.
Zentiva operates in 50 markets and has a strong presence in Eastern Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.
Its generic drugs portfolio includes cardiovascular and gastrointestinal drugs as well as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs based on ibuprofen and leflunomide molecules.
Reuters. Additional reporting Irish Examiner