PharmExec Blog

Abbott to Purchase Solvay for $6.6 Billion (Update 1)

Abbott announced, early Monday morning, that it had signed a deal to purchase Belgium-based drug manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals for $6.6 billion in cash—a mere five months after Solvay’s CEO Werner Cautreels announced that the company was searching for a proper suitor.

The deal adds more than $3 billion in annualized sales to its global pharmaceutical business—three-quarters of which are in international markets. Abbott will be adding the ex-US Solvay pharmaceuticals to its existing pharma division, which has been growing in double digits on an operational basis, according Abbott CEO Miles White.

“We are adding from a position of strength,” White said in a conference call. “Our business has performed well in developed countries with branded products, such as Humira.”

Solvay offers Abbott a portfolio of complimentary products in cardiology, neuroscience, and gastroenterology; as well as new compounds, such as pancreatic enzymes and hormonal therapies.

Abbott also gains control of Solvay’s vaccine pipeline—an area Abbott has yet to enter—and a small diagnostics business. Seventy percent of Solvay’s business is branded generics, sold mostly outside of the United States.

Solvay is currently trying to boost its $200 million influenza vaccine business by establishing cell-culture production capabilities to be used for seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines.

The biggest gain for Abbott is Solvay’s existing penetration in emerging markets. Solvay is currently active in 50 countries with products in 150 countries. Solvay has a broad emerging markets infrastructure with a presence and brand loyalty in Russia, Brazil, and India.

White estimates combined sales in emerging markets to be about $4 billion by 2013. Solvay sales in Russia last year exceeded $150 million; twice what Abbott sold in that country.

“Solvay also gives us approximately $500 million in additional incremental research and development capacity that we’ll use to drive future pharmaceutical growth,” White said. “This extra funding power also provides us with additional flexibility to access opportunities through licensing and external partner agreements.”

Abbott expects the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2010.

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