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July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Toksoz Holding AS, a Turkish food and pharmaceutical group, is exploring a sale of Sanovel Ilac Sanayi & Ticaret AS, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Toksoz is working with Greenhill & Co., Alpacar Associates and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to sell most of closely held drugmaker Sanovel, the people said, asking not to be named because the plans are private. Toksoz is seeking a valuation of more than $1 billion, two of the people said. Potential buyers may be willing to pay $750 million to $1 billion, another person familiar with the matter said.

Sanovel, based in Istanbul, makes anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic and antibiotic medications as well as veterinary drugs, according to its website. It is among the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in Turkey, the website says.

Transactions in Turkey may prove more challenging amid political unrest that has affected markets. Protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government roiled Turkey’s markets last month, with the stock index down 2.8 percent since the start of the year.

Emlak Konut Gayrimenkul Yatirim Ortakligi AS, a state-owned property developer, slumped the most on record on June 10 after the company delayed a share sale, citing stock market turmoil triggered by the anti-government protests in Turkey.

While the sale process is not currently under way, Sanovel has drawn interest from international drugmakers, one of the people said.

Sanovel Sales

Sanovel had about $227 million of sales to pharmacies last year, one of the people said. The figure didn’t include exports and direct sales to hospitals, the person said.

Turkey has been a popular target for pharmaceutical deals in recent years, with companies seeking to tap its $786 billion economy, which grew 2.2 percent last year. Amgen Inc., the world’s largest biotechnology company, agreed to buy closely held Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals for almost $700 million last year. Zentiva NV, a Czech drugmaker bought by Sanofi in 2009, acquired 75 percent of the generic-drug unit of Turkey’s Eczacibasi in 2007 and later purchased the rest.

Ahmet Toksoz, chairman of Sanovel, didn’t immediately reply to phone calls seeking comment. Officials at Greenhill, Alpacar Associates and JPMorgan declined to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at; Jacqueline Simmons in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at; Jacqueline Simmons at jackiem@bloomberg.

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