Abbott targets sale of Solvay flu-vax unit

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) doesn't plan to hold onto Solvay's flu vaccine business. The company started marketing the unit last week, sources tell the Wall Street Journal, by sending out materials to several large healthcare companies. The business could fetch some €500 million, or $619 million.

Abbott bought Solvay's drugs business last year in a $6.6 billion deal. With the acquisition, Abbott gained full control of the cholesterol drug TriCor, which it had been co-marketing with Solvay, plus its successor Trilipix. It also got treatments for Parkinson's disease, pancreatic problems, vertigo, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

According to the WSJ, the flu vaccine unit is strong in Eastern Europe, an area that's now underserved by vaccine makers. Abbott's hoping that fact will spark demand for a deal. Among the Big Pharma types expected to show interest are GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.

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