Teva to buy German generic drugmaker

Israeli drugmaker beats out rivals Pfizer and Actavis to acquire Ratiopharm GmbH, in a deal worth some €3.6 billion.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 19, 2010 14:55
2 minute read.
Shlomo Yanai, CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industrie

shlomo yanai teva 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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FRANKFURT – Israeli drugmaker Teva has beaten out rivals Pfizer and Actavis to acquire German generic drugmaker Ratiopharm GmbH, in a deal announced Thursday worth some €3.6 billion (nearly $5b).

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s successful bid will give it a lofty perch in the lucrative German generic market and is the second big acquisition in two years for the company. Its last major purchase was Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. for some $7.4b.

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The deal, which is being paid for with cash and credit, is subject to regulatory approvals but is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Teva had been bidding for the company amid reports that Ratiopharm was also being courted by US drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and Iceland’s Actavis Group.

Investors were happy about the announcement, sending Teva shares up nearly 4.3 percent to $62.50 on the Nasdaq exchange.

Ratiopharm was put up for sale by its owners, the Merckle family, earlier this year as they sought to pay down debts incurred by Adolf Merckle, who killed himself in January 2009.

“The separation of Ratiopharm is a painful step for us as the founding family,” said Ludwig Merckle, Adolf’s son. But he said he was “confident that this is a good solution.”

“I believe that joining forces with the world’s largest generic company will enable Ratiopharm to continue its path of growth and success,” he added.

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Last month, biotechnology company Cephalon Inc. said it would buy the Merckle family’s Swiss-based drug company Mepha AG for $590 million.

Teva is among the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Like Ratiopharm, it makes generic drugs; more than 80% of its sales are in North America and Western Europe.

It has also entered the brand-name market, offering Copaxone to help treat multiple sclerosis and Azilect for Parkinson’s disease. It has a drug called Laquinimod in late-stage testing for multiple sclerosis and has begun testing it as a possible treatment for lupus.

“This transaction is perfectly aligned with our long-term strategy in which Europe is an important pillar and growth driver,” Teva CEO Shlomo Yanai said in a statement.

“Ratiopharm will provide us with the ideal platform to strengthen our leadership position in key European markets, most notably in Germany, as well as rapidly growing generic markets such as Spain, Italy and France,” he added.

In a statement, Teva said the combined company would have had revenues of $16.2b. in 2009.

Ratiopharm, based in Ulm, is one of Europe’s biggest producers of generic drugs, along with German rival Stada and Switzerland’s Novartis.

It sells about 750 medicines and has nearly as many awaiting approval from regulators, indicating strong growth prospects. The company has offices in 24 countries and sells products in 34.

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