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Fresenius Begins Talks on Biotech Unit Sale in Focus Move

Fresenius SE said it’s in talks with several parties to sell its unprofitable biotechnology unit as the health-care company focuses on dialysis, infusions, and hospital and facility management as its main businesses.

The unit’s top-selling drug, the immunosuppressant ATG-Fresenius S, may be retained in the event of a disposal, the Bad Homburg, Germany-based company said in a statement today. Fresenius said it will decide in the first quarter how many of its biotechnology assets to sell.

The biotechnology division, which also makes the Removab antibody agent, posted a 15 percent increase in nine-month revenue to 26 million euros ($34 million). The sale of the unit, which is expected to post a 25 million-euro loss this year, will boost earnings in 2013, Fresenius said.

“The key message first is that they’re going to stop those losses from recurring,” Sebastian Frericks, an analyst at Frankfurt-based Bankhaus Metzler, said by telephone.

ATG is the more profitable part of the Fresenius biotechnology business, Metzler said. In use since 1981, the drug is used by organ- and stem-cell transplant patients.

Fresenius rose as much as 2.3 percent to 90 euros, the biggest intraday gain since Nov. 27, and was trading up 1.2 percent at 2:33 p.m. in Frankfurt.

The medical-services company said in its 2011 annual report that it was trying to boost sales of Removab. The treatment was approved in 2009 to counter malignant ascites, the buildup of cancer-cell-containing fluid in the abdomen.

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