Kyowa Kirin ponders US$1B sale of pharma assets

JAPAN – Japanese specialty pharmaceutical firm Kyowa Kirin is reportedly considering a sale of some of its international assets that are valued at US$1 billion, Bloomberg has reports.

The company is considering the divestment of certain assets from its Kyowa Kirin International unit, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg.

The sale would include more “established and mature products,” according to the news organization. Deliberations are preliminary and a company representative told Bloomberg that nothing has been decided yet.

The price tag of the possible sale resembles a Teva asset sale in 2017, when the company unloaded its Paragard intrauterine copper contraceptive to CooperSurgical for US$1.1 billion in cash.

The assets under consideration have not been revealed, and the company is reportedly working with a financial advisor to explore the potential sale.

Kyowa Kirin is owned by Kirin Holdings, a massive business that engages in the beverage as well as the pharmaceutical industries. Kirin Holdings owns about 54% of Kyowa Kirin shares. 

The price tag of the possible sale resembles a Teva asset sale in 2017, when the company unloaded its Paragard intrauterine copper contraceptive to CooperSurgical for US$1.1 billion in cash.

Elsewhere, AstraZeneca has been busy with asset sales in recent years, and Sanofi recently sold rights to cancer drug Libtayo to its partner Regeneron for US$900 million, Fiercepharma reports.

Earlier, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation agreed to sell its healthcare data and analytics assets that are part of its Watson Health unit to Francisco Partners, a global investment firm, for more than US$1 billion.

The deal includes data sets and products such as Health Insights, Clinical Development, MarketScan, Micromedex, and Social Program Management, along with imaging software offerings.

In February 2021, it was reported across the media that IBM is considering the sale of its Watson Health business in a move to streamline the company and concentrate on cloud computing operations.

The business involved in the transaction is a data, analytics, and technology partner for the health industry.

It makes use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help hospitals, insurance firms, and pharma companies to manage their data.

The decision followed struggles to make Watson Health profitable and indicates a retreat by IBM from the healthcare space.

IBM launched Watson Health in 2015 with the promise to revolutionize healthcare and personalized medicine by feeding reams of patient data to its AI algorithm.

Further to that, India-based Biocon Biologics Limited (BBL), a subsidiary of Biocon, announced in February that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the biosimilars business assets of its partner, Viatris, in a deal valued at approximately US$3.34 billion.

The board of directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to closing conditions.

Under the agreement, Viatris will receive US$2 billion on closing and up to US$335 million in additional payments, which are expected to be paid in 2024.

Upon closing, BBL will issue US$1 billion of compulsorily convertible preference shares to Viatris, which is equivalent to an equity stake of at least 12.9% in BBL on a fully diluted basis.

Combining Viatris’ biosimilars business with BBL will accelerate BBL’s build out of its commercial capability in developed markets, including the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

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