Actavis divests its drug delivery unit as it barrels toward acquisition of Allergan

Aptalis Pharmaceutical Technologies' Diffutab tablet for sustained-release medications--Courtesy of Aptalis

Saying it needs to focus on the looming integration effort with Botox maker Allergan ($AGN), Actavis ($ACT) announced that it will sell Aptalis Pharmaceutical Technologies, a third-party supplier of drug delivery capsules and taste-masking formulations, back to private equity firm TPG for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close in mid-2015.

Also known as Pharmatech, the unit accounted for about 15% of Aptalis' $688 million in annual revenues, or just over $100 million. Pharmatech sells four customized drug-release platforms for enhanced drug solubility, sustained-release, taste masking and patients who have trouble swallowing, according to the company website.

Customers include GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which used the Diffucaps platform for drugs that have poor solubility in its Innopran XL extended-release capsules to treat hypertension and lower blood pressure. They are now manufactured by Akrimax Pharmaceuticals.

The platforms can be combined with the company's taste-masking technology, such as its AdvaTab orally disintegrating tablets. Pharmatech also touts its techniques for improving the bioavailability of drugs with low solubility and has a number of products available for outlicensing.

TPG said in a release that it hopes the new addition will enable it to enter into new partnerships and act as a platform from which to make additional acquisitions. The private equity firm already has almost 50 biotechnology companies in its portfolio, some of which may benefit from Pharmatech's delivery platforms.

The deal is the latest in a dizzying array of transactions involving Aptalis. In January 2014, TPG sold Aptalis to Forest Laboratories for $2.9 billion, which was in turn acquired by Actavis a month later for $25 billion.

Now, Ireland's Actavis is acquiring Allergan in an inversion deal valued at $66 billion, the biggest such transaction ever since inversion mania began last summer. Actavis COO Robert Stewart said selling off Aptalis' pharmaceutical technologies unit would allow the parent company to sharpen its focus on its "existing global supply chain, and on preparing for the expansion of our manufacturing network with the addition of the Allergan facilities following the close of the acquisition later this year."

- read the release
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