Japan’s Taisho close to acquiring Bristol-Myers OTC unit in $1.6b deal

Source: Internet Archive

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.

Taisho shares fell as much as 4.05 percent Monday afternoon in Tokyo, hitting their lowest intraday level since Nov. 21, before recovering. They traded at 12,560 yen each by 2:02 p.m., giving the Tokyo-based company a market value of almost $10 billion.

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.

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.

Taisho, whose roots trace back to 1912, focuses the bulk of its business on OTC products, including energy drinks, cold medication and hair regrowth treatment. An acquisition of UPSA wouldn’t be the first deal Taisho has done with Bristol-Myers. In 2009, it agreed to buy the U.S. company’s Asia-Pacific OTC business, excluding Japan and China, for $310 million.

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-euro ($3.8 billion) deal, the data show.

Japanese companies in particular have been scouting for growth overseas, taking advantage of low financing costs. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. is on course to complete a $62 billion takeover of Shire Plc after shareholders cleared the deal this month.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.