• Bloomberg


Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. has emerged as the leading contender to acquire Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Japanese consumer health care business, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is in advanced talks with Takeda on terms of a transaction, and the two parties aim to reach an agreement in the coming days, the people said. Taisho is poised to beat out several private equity bidders that were also pursuing the business, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The unit could be valued at more than $3 billion, Bloomberg News reported in April.

Takeda, Japan’s largest drugmaker by sales, raised its profit outlook after the market close, based on one-time items including for expected costs for a drug it no longer needs to divest. It now expects operating profit will be ¥395 billion ($3.8 billion) for the fiscal year through March, up from its previous forecast of ¥355 billion.

Takeda has been in divestment mode after it completed a $62 billion purchase of Shire last year, in which it took on around $31 billion of debt. Takeda aims to cut net debt by 2024, partly by targeting the sale of $10 billion of assets. The company announced five divestitures worth up to $7.7 billion last year, chief financial officer Costa Saroukos said during the firm’s earnings call in May.

Takeda has said it would concentrate on selling assets that are not core to its focus on gastroenterology, oncology, neuroscience, rare diseases and plasma-derived therapies.

Takeda’s consumer health care business has also attracted interest from other suitors and no final decisions have been made, the people said. Representatives for Taisho and Takeda declined to comment.

The domestic unit comprises Takeda’s over the counter products in Japan, including a popular line of energy drinks and cold medication. Takeda in June agreed to sell a separate portfolio of over the counter products to South Korea’s Celltrion Inc. in a deal worth as much as $278 million, subject to certain post-deal conditions.

Taisho bought Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s French over-the-counter unit for nearly $1.6 billion in 2019 to expand its international footprint. The company, whose roots trace back to 1912, focuses the bulk of its business on OTC products, including energy drinks, cold medication and hair regrowth treatment.

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