Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Pfizer Sells Stake in China's Hisun, Ending Drugs Joint Venture

  • Companies say in statement they can focus on core strengths
  • Pfizer held 49 percent stake in venture formed in 2012

Pfizer Inc. has sold its stake in a joint venture with China’s Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceuticals, reducing the U.S. drugmaker’s presence in one of the world’s largest and fast-growing pharmaceutical markets.

The $295 million partnership was announced in 2011 and formalized a year later, and was meant to develop, manufacture and commercialize pharmaceutical products in China and throughout the world.

New York-based Pfizer’s said its 49 percent equity stake was sold to to Sapphire I Holdings Ltd. Pfizer spokesman Steve Danehy declined to say how much Pfizer will get.

The sale will allow Pfizer and Hisun to focus on “their core strengths,” the companies said in a statement. Last year, China Business News reported that Pfizer was considering an exit because of declining profits and had started looking at how it might end the partnership.

Danehy said in an emailed statement that Pfizer is committed to patients in China, and the sale doesn’t impact the rest of the company’s China’s operations. Pfizer said it will continue to work with the Chinese government and cited last year’s opening of a facility in Hangzhou that will develop biological medicines for Chinese patients.

“We will continue to collaborate with the government and other stakeholders to increase access to affordable and high quality medicines,” Danehy said.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies have tried with mixed success to increase their presence in China. The country’s pharmaceutical market is the world’s second largest, and is projected to grow 9 percent a year, according to the U.S Department of Commerce.

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