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Roche to offer $10 bln for rest of Chugai - Bloomberg

Roche Building

 (Reuters)

Roche Holding AG is in talks to buy the almost 40 percent stake in Japan's Chugai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd that it does not already own for about $10 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for Roche declined to comment on the report.

The Swiss group could announce a deal to take full control of its Japanese partner for oncology and arthritis drugs as early as next week, although no final decision has been made, Bloomberg said. (http://bloom.bg/1yF2JNH)

There has long been speculation that Roche might swallow Chugai - following a similar buyout of U.S. biotech group Genentech in 2009 - to maximize exposure to the Japanese drugs market, the world's second largest after the United States.

Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan was asked about such a move in April 2013 but said then he had no plans to change the company's holding in Chugai, which has been a subsidiary since 2002.

Roche, the world's largest producer of cancer medicines, has a long track record of making bolt-on acquisitions. Schwan reiterated last month that he planned to steer clear of mega-mergers and focus instead on smaller deals and partnerships.

In its most recent deal, Roche agreed in July to pay up to $1.725 billion to buy Seragon Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held U.S. biotech company that researches breast cancer treatments.

Acquiring the rest of Chugai would be a considerably larger purchase but would still be very manageable for Roche, which has a market value of about $250 billion.

($1 = 0.9023 Swiss Francs) (Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi and Joshua Franklin; Editing by Ben Hirschler and David Clarke)