Takeda Said to Explore Sale of Chemicals Unit to Raise Cash

  • Sale of chemicals unit Wako could fetch more than $1 billion
  • Asset may attract interest from companies, buyout firms

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. is exploring the sale of its majority stake in chemicals business Wako Pure Chemical Industries Ltd. as the Japanese drugmaker seeks to sell non-core assets to raise cash, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Takeda is working with advisers at Nomura Holdings Inc. to sell the business, which could fetch more than $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The sale could attract interest from companies and private equity firms, including Permira Advisers and Carlyle Group LP, the people said. Takeda owns about 72 percent of Wako. 

The Wako sale would follow a number of other disposals as Takeda pushes to make its operations more efficient. Last year, the company agreed to divest its respiratory business to AstraZeneca Plc for $575 million and disclosed plans for a partnership with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to sell generic drugs in Japan.

“It seems like they can sell at a premium,” Kazuyoshi Saito, a senior analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co. in Tokyo, said by phone Friday. “They will be able to divert funds to businesses they prioritize, such as oncology and gastrointestinal areas.”

Fujifilm Holdings Corp. is considering an offer for Wako, though nothing has been decided, Takao Aoki, a Fujifilm spokesman, said by phone. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported Fujifilm’s interest in the Takeda-owned business earlier Friday, without saying where it got the information.

Representatives at Osaka-based Takeda, Nomura and Carlyle declined to comment. A representative for Permira didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Japanese buyers have announced $84.9 billion in acquisitions this year, up 32 percent from the same period last year. That’s largely thanks to SoftBank Group Corp.’s $32 billion agreement earlier this month to buy U.K. chip designer ARM Holdings Plc.

Founded in 1922, Wako’s business includes laboratory chemicals, specialty chemicals and agents used in diagnostic tests, and the company has a presence in Asia, Europe and the U.S., according to the company’s website.

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