AstraZeneca Looking to Sell Unit for $2 Billion


Drugmaker AstraZeneca (AZN) is seeking a buyer for its Astra Tech business, a Swedish unit that makes dental implants and medical devices, for about $2 billion, Bloomberg and other outlets reported, citing unnamed sources. AstraZeneca has hired JPMorgan to help it manage the sale and contact potential buyers.

Some of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical's leading drugs, including heartburn treatment Nexium and antipsychotic Seroquel, face patent expiration in coming years and will have to deal with competition from cheap generics. So far, the company's pipeline hasn't found replacements for the impending lost sales. So it is looking at other strategies, including divestment of assets and refocusing on its core business.

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Astra Tech, which also makes medical devices for urology and surgery, had sales of €374 million ($507 million) last year. JPMorgan plans to approach medical-device makers and private equity firms, a Bloomberg source said.

The Financial Times added that its source pointed to 3M (MMM) and Danaher (DHR) as possible buyers of dental businesses in the U.S. Possible buyers in Switzerland include Nobel Biocare and Straumann. Reuters added possible interest from privately held Biomet, Medtronic (MDT) and Dentsply International (XRAY).

Bloomberg added that AstraZeneca was also considering selling Aptium Oncology, a chain of outpatient cancer centers it owns in the U.S., for less than $500 million, which could interest privateequity funds.

AstraZeneca shares climbed 0.6% in early morning trading.

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