Pfizer, Novartis eye bids for Brazil's Ache in deal worth $5B

Some Big Pharma heavyweights are duking it out for Brazil's Aché Laboratórios Farmacêuticos. Reuters sources say Pfizer ($PFE), Novartis ($NVS) and Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) are in the fight, sizing up second-round bids in a deal worth around $5 billion.

Drugmakers are keen on Brazil these days because it's among the world's fastest-growing pharma markets. As one of the "pharmerging" countries highlighted by IMS Health, Brazil has an expansion-minded healthcare system and a growing group of middle-class consumers. With India and China both becoming more complicated, thanks to patent losses and price controls, Brazil's allure may only grow.

Aché's overall drug sales rank fourth in that country, but it's the leading supplier of prescription meds, Reuters notes. Its sizable presence comes with a sizable price tag; Reuters' sources figure that a buyer will have to shell out at least $4.5 billion, and perhaps up to $6 billion, to satisfy the selling shareholders.

And therein lies the snare. Among Aché's major shareholders are the Baptista and Siaulys families, and they're the ones who hired Lazard to explore a sale, Reuters notes. Another family, the Depieris, want to keep their stake. So, the owners may hold out for a rich price. "Some people who were interested have pulled out for that reason," one of Reuters' sources said.

Or they may decide not to sell at all; at this point, Aché still maintains it's not for sale. Pfizer, Novartis and Abbott wouldn't comment.

- read the Reuters news

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