Business / Corporate

Taisho said to near $1.6 billion deal for Bristol-Myers unit

Bloomberg

Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. is nearing a deal to buy Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s French over-the-counter unit, people familiar with the matter said, as the Japanese drugmaker seeks to boost its overseas presence.

An agreement for the consumer-health business could be announced as soon as this week, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A deal could value the OTC operations, known as UPSA, at about $1.6 billion, said the people.

U.S. pharma giant Bristol-Myers has sought to sell the unit amid a push to streamline its business globally to focus on other growth areas, the people said. Any deal would add to the $428.7 billion of announced acquisitions of health care companies this year, 27 percent more than the same period in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Talks are still ongoing and may not result in a deal, the people said. A spokesman for Taisho declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Bristol-Myers said the company is still considering options for the strategic review of UPSA it announced in June. She said relevant bodies would be informed as and when appropriate about the outcome, declining to comment further.

It’s been a busy year for the consumer-health sector globally. GlaxoSmithKline PLC agreed to a $13 billion acquisition of Novartis AG’s stake in their consumer joint venture in March, and a month later, Procter & Gamble Co. agreed to buy Merck KGaA’s consumer-health business in a €3.4 billion ($3.8 billion) deal, the data show.

UPSA sells painkillers and flu medicines such as Dafalgan, Efferalgan and Fervex as well as nutritional treatments, its website shows. It was founded in 1935 and bought by Bristol-Myers in 1994.