Astellas Is Considering Selling Europe Assets to Raise Cash

(Bloomberg) -- Astellas Pharma Inc. is considering a sale of some central and eastern European assets as the Japanese drugmaker seeks to trim its portfolio and raise cash, according to people familiar with the matter.

Astellas is working with Jefferies Financial Group Inc. on the potential disposal, which includes Russian assets and has drawn interest from private equity firms and other pharmaceutical companies, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The portfolio under review includes drugs to prevent infections and pain treatments, the people said.

A sale could value the assets at more than $500 million, depending on which products ultimately get sold, the people said. No final decision has been made, and the drugmaker could still decide against a sale, the people said. A spokesman for Jefferies declined to comment.

“Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. is committed to being on the forefront of health-care change,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We cannot provide further comment at this time.”

The Tokyo-based company is focusing on expanding its oncology and overactive bladder treatments to counteract expiring patents, according to its website. This month, Astellas said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a supplemental New Drug Application for Xtandi -- one of the company’s key products -- as a treatment for men with non-metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Astellas shares rose as much as 1.1 percent in early trading in Tokyo on Thursday. The stock has rallied 27 percent this year, valuing the company at 3.6 trillion yen ($32 billion).

Global pharmaceutical companies are paring their portfolios to focus on high-growth therapeutic areas. On Wednesday, a unit of U.S. health-care giant Johnson & Johnson said it agreed to sell global rights for Sylvant, a treatment for a rare blood disorder, to Eusa Pharma. Novartis AG Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said this week that the company is evaluating a range of options for its generic drugs business, including selling some products or investing in new medicines.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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