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Specialist pharma company Nycomed buys Altana

Published on 22/09/06 at 04:42pm

Danish speciality pharmaceutical company Nycomed is to acquire pharma company Altana for 4.5 billion euros.

Germany's Altana is currently a business spanning the pharmaceuticals and chemicals industries, but a lack of promising new drugs and slower growth in medicines compared to chemicals has convinced the company to sell its pharma division.

Nycomed is a lesser-known pharma company which has specialised in in-licensing products but is currently growing fast, with revenues up 16% in the first half of 2006.

The Danish company's earnings are just a third of Altana Pharma's revenues, which stood at 1.27 billion euros for the first half of 2006.

The companies will combine under the Nycomed name and will be headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland with R&D operations led from Altana's current base in Konstanz, Germany.

The merger will turn Nycomed into a European middleweight, but some analysts are not convinced the new company will have the pipeline or pedigree to continue its growth over the long term.

Dr Hkan Bjrklund, Nycomed chief executive, said: "Altana Pharma is a perfect match for us. Nycomed's excellent product portfolio and pipeline will benefit from Altana Pharma's marketing strength in key markets.

"Clearly, the proposed acquisition will be in line with our strategic objective to further strengthen our position as a leading European pharmaceutical company and attractive licensing partner."

Dr Bjrklund said Nycomed and Altana Pharma were both successful and growing companies with highly complementary businesses, and that merging them would provide a strong position in their European home markets and a sound platform in some of the world's fastest growing markets, including Russia-CIS and South America.

The company will have an initial workforce of around 12,000 people across more than 40 countries, and have estimated annual sales of around  3.1 billion euros.

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