Galenica Chairman Says Roche Deal May Accelerate Vifor Spinoff

Galenica AG, the owner of Switzerland’s biggest pharmacy network, may list its Vifor Pharma unit earlier than planned, Chairman Etienne Jornod said.

He expects Vifor Pharma to generate sales of about 1 billion francs ($1.1 billion) as early as next year thanks to an exclusive license agreement with Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG for the commercialization of Mircera, an iron deficiency drug, in the U.S. The deal was signed in May.

“Of course, the Mircera deal has increased the probability” of a split, Jornod said when asked if a separation of the unit that makes anemia treatments may happen before the period of three to five years outlined in late 2014.

“This is a key step in ensuring that the company will soon be ready for independence,” he said by e-mail.

Swiss health-care companies are taking advantage of the favorable climate in equity markets. Cosmo Pharmaceuticals SpA listed its Cassiopea SpA unit this week and Novimmune SA and AC Immune are considering selling shares to the public.

The company’s shares fell 2.2 percent on Friday after it announced new strategic priorities for Galenica Sante.

“We need further important projects before Vifor can become independent,” Jornod said, adding that the company needs products that can be marketed within two to three years and a pipeline with products that can be sold within five to 10 years. “We are looking for acquisitions or partner agreements.”