/publications/issue/2005/2005-04/2005-04-9416

Novartis to Buy Generic Drug Companies

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Novartis plans to expand its presence as a maker of generic drugs with the purchase of Hexal of Germany and its New York affiliate, Eon Labs, for a reported $8.4 billion in cash. Hexal is the second-largest generic drug manufacturer in Germany.

The purchase would give Novartis a much bigger piece of the generic drug pie. Hexal would bring Novartis >120 new products, including painkillers and cholesterol drugs. Eon would bring a low-cost copy of a popular antidepressant (bupropion) and an extensive pipeline of new generic drugs.

The acquisition will occur in stages. Novartis already has signed an agreement to pay $7.4 billion for all of Hexal and for 67.7% of Eon. After the transaction closes (scheduled for the second half of 2005), Novartis plans to offer $31 a share, or about $1 billion, for the rest of Eon.