Takeda eyes emerging markets asset sale to trim its debt; report

Takeda is said to be considering the sale of assets in emerging markets and western Europe to pay down some of the debt it has taken on with the $62 billion acquisition of Shire.

Bloomberg suggests the Japanese drugmaker could divest over-the-counter and prescription drugs in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Asia in the coming weeks. The sell-off was rumoured to be on the cards earlier this year.

The drugs – which were acquired along with Nycomed in 2011 – could raise around $3 billion says the news agency, with Swiss drugmaker Acino and Germany’s Stada thought to be among the bidders.

A separate deal could see OTC and prescription medicines in Western Europe sold to private equity firms and could raise another $1 billion, says Bloomberg, citing people close to the matter.

The sell-off would concentrate on products that lie outside Takeda’s therapeutic focus areas of gastroenterology, oncology, neuroscience, rare diseases and plasma-derived therapies.

Takeda completed its takeover of Shire in January, shortly after ratings agency Moody’s cut the Japanese company’s credit rating from A2 to BAA2, two points above junk status. At the time it said Takeda’s debts had increased almost six-fold, thanks to $30 million in new borrowing and the absorption of almost-$14 billion in Shire debt.

Takeda has already implemented cost-cutting drive aimed at trimming $2 billion off its annual spend by the end of 2021, including from job cuts, and said earlier this year that it wanted to complete asset sales of around $10 billion

 In May it took a big step towards that goal by agreeing to sell off its dry eye disease drug Xiidra (lifitegrast) to Novartis for $3.4 billion in a deal whose value could rise to $5.3 billion.

That transaction included the transfer of 400 workers – based mainly in the US and Canada – to the Swiss pharma giant. It also divested surgical patch product TachoSil to Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit for around $400 million.

Other assets rumoured to be up for sale include Shire’s hypoparathyroidism drug Natpara (parathyroid hormone) as well as inflammatory bowel disease candidate SHP647, which is in the final stages of testing for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The latter deal is a must-do, as the European Commission made it a condition of rubber stamping the Shire takeover.

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