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Meda builds marketing muscle

Swedish specialty pharma firm Meda AB has built up its marketing muscle in Western Europe by eating its larger German rival Viatris in a Ä750m deal

Swedish specialty pharma firm Meda AB has built up its marketing muscle in Western Europe by eating its larger German rival Viatris in a Ä750m deal.

Analysts said Viatris' presence in markets such as Germany, France, Spain and the Benelux region would complement Meda's Nordic operations to form a pan-European sales and marketing platform.

In winning the auction to snap up Viatris from private equity firm Advent International, Meda beat a whole host of suitors to the deal: UCB of Belgium and Almirall of Spain were reported to be interested as were Indian generics firms Ranbaxy Laboratories and Wockhardt.

Meda CEO, Anders Lonner, said the combined company would be ìan attractive in-licensing partner with its pan-European organisation in marketing and sales, but also through its capacity in regulatory affairs and product developmentî.

Advent managing director, Ralf Huep, said the excellent fit between the two companies had been an important factor in selecting a buyer for Viatris.

Dominic Hollamby, global head, healthcare group at Rothschild, the investment bank that ran the auction, told the Financial Times: ìIn one bold move Meda has moved into the first division of pan-European drug companies in terms of sales and marketing. They have the geographic representation they needed, there are good synergies and opportunities to sell each other's products.î

While Meda had sales of SKr835m (£61.8m) in the first half of 2005 compared to Viatris's SKr1.875bn (£138m), the Swedish group had a higher operating profit before depreciation and amortisation.

Meda will pay Ä583m for Viatris shares and assume net debt, including pension provisions and similar obligations, of Ä167m.

Viatris' most important therapeutic area is respiratory; the company developed the patented Novolizer device, an innovative multi-dose dry powder inhaler. It also has a strong position in pain and inflammation, a core therapeutic area of Meda.

Meda, which currently has no manufacturing facilities, will be looking to utilise Viatris' production capabilities for inhalation products and tablets.

Shares in Meda jumped 27 per cent to an all-time high of SKr106.50 (£1.68) on the news.

30th September 2008

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