Torrent Pharma readies UK Pound 2 billion binding offer for Sanofis European unit

Advertisement

Mumbai: Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd is readying a €2 billion (Rs16,000 crore) bid for Zentiva N.V., the generic drugs unit of France’s Sanofi, two people directly aware of the bidding process said.

If Ahmedabad-based Torrent is successful, it will be the biggest outbound transaction by an Indian drug maker, the previous largest being Lupin Ltd’s acquisition of Gavis Pharmaceuticals Llc. and Novel Laboratories Inc. for $880 million in 2015.

Torrent Pharma has tied up funding from several domestic and foreign banks for the bid, the deadline for which ends on 28 March, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Sanofi had acquired Zentiva in 2009 by paying close to $2.6 billion for the company. Zentiva is currently the third largest generics company in Europe and sells medicines for cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, anti-inflammatory, pain management, metabolic and blood disorders among others.

Zentiva has earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) of $150 million. Torrent’s €2 billion bid will value the firm at 13 times its Ebitda, said one of the two people cited above, adding Sanofi has hired JP Morgan, Rothschild & Co. and Morgan Stanley as advisers to manage the sale process.

“More Indian pharma companies had submitted non-binding bids when the asset first came up for auction but their bids were not shortlisted,” said the second person cited above. “Apart from Torrent, a few more bidders have been shortlisted, which include a strategic bidder and private equity funds,” the second person said, adding that shortlisted bidders among PE firms are global giants Blackstone and Carlyle.

News agency Reuters reported in February that apart from Torrent, Brazilian drugmaker EMS has been shortlisted by Sanofi for Zentiva.

Responding to a query, a spokesperson for Sanofi said “As announced in our 2020 strategic roadmap, Sanofi has carefully reviewed all options for its generics business in Europe and has decided to initiate a carve-out process in order to divest it by the end of 2018. Sanofi will be looking for a potential acquirer that will leverage the mid and long-term sustainable growth opportunities for this business in Europe.”

“While Sanofi does not disclose the details of the preparation of the divestment, the company can confirm that, as it is common business practice, bankers have been appointed to advise Sanofi on the divestment. Sanofi can also confirm having received different manifestations of interest for the acquisition of its profitable European generics business. The company will not comment further at this stage,” the spokesperson added.

Requests for comment sent to Blackstone and Carlyle remained unanswered. JPMorgan, Rothschild and Morgan Stanley did not respond to requests for comment.

In August last year, Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd, one of the largest privately held domestic pharma companies, unsuccessfully bid for the European assets of Israeli generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in a deal that was valued at close to $1 billion.

Torrent has been fairly active in the M&A space in the recent past. In January, Torrent announced the acquisition of US-based generic pharmaceuticals company, Biopharm Inc (BPI) through its US subsidiary. BPI is a maker of oral solutions, suspensions and suppositories. In November last year, it acquired the domestic business of Unichem Laboratories for close to Rs 3,600 crore. In 2014, Torrent acquired the branded domestic formulations business of Elder Pharma for Rs 2,000 crore and acquired select brands of Novartis, and manufacturing plants of Zyg Pharma and Glochem Industries in 2015.