Claris Said to Start Sale of $500 Million U.S. Injectables Unit

Indian pharmaceutical producer Claris Lifesciences Ltd. has started a sale of its U.S. injectable-drug business, which could fetch at least $500 million, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Claris Lifesciences has reached out to potential buyers including Baxter International Inc. and other U.S. companies, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. It has asked for bids by the end of August, according to the people. The sale could also draw interest from Indian drugmakers such as Cadila Healthcare Ltd., Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd., the people said.

A sale would allow Claris Lifesciences to capitalize on high demand for injectable drugs, including its products that can ease pain during surgery, prevent blood clots and treat infections. Needle-delivered medicines, which are more complex to make than pills, can command higher profit margins.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. agreed last month to acquire 86 percent of Indian injectable-drug maker Gland Pharma Ltd. for as much as $1.26 billion. Pfizer Inc. bought Hospira Inc., the biggest maker of these medicines, in September for about $17 billion including debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Claris Lifesciences Inc., the drugmaker’s New Jersey-based unit, contributed about 2 billion rupees ($30 million) of profit in the year through March 31, far more than any other subsidiary, according to the group’s latest annual report. The publicly-traded parent reported a consolidated loss of 580 million rupees for the 12-month period, the filing shows.

Spokesmen for Claris Lifesciences and Baxter declined to comment, while representatives for Intas Pharmaceuticals, Cadila Healthcare and Torrent Pharmaceuticals didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Mumbai-listed Claris Lifesciences, which has a $202 million market value, considered selling the U.S. business in the past but decided to put off a sale until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its manufacturing plant near Ahmedabad, the people said. The U.S. regulator finished its inspection in May and found the facility “acceptable,” according to an exchange filing at the time. 

Indian pharmaceutical companies have sometimes offloaded units at a premium to foreign buyers betting a business would grow faster under their ownership. Bangalore-based Strides Arcolab Ltd. sold its injectable-drug unit Agila Specialties Pvt. to Mylan Inc. for $1.6 billion in 2013. Strides, which is now known as Strides Shasun Ltd., had a market value of only $1.1 billion the day before the deal was announced.

In addition to its Claris Injectables Ltd. subsidiary, Claris Lifesciences has a joint venture with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory Inc. and Mitsui & Co. called Claris Otsuka Pvt., which makes intravenous nutrition products.

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