Australia's iNova may go on block for $718M-plus

Another set of private equity owners is weighing the sale of a pharma investment. Australia's iNova Pharmaceuticals, which boasts a portfolio of consumer health and prescription drugs in the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions, may now well go on the block after Archer Capital and Ironbridge decided to back away from taking the company public.

Archer and Ironbridge put off an IPO because of weak markets and subsequently have seen interest in iNova from overseas companies and other private equity investors, as the Wall Street Journal reports. The company could fetch somewhere between A$700 million to A$850 million (roughly $718 million to $872 million), sources tell the WSJ.

The private-equity owners would like to wrap up a deal this year. If they can't put together a suitable sale, they may consider a 2012 IPO, depending upon how markets fare between now and then.

iNova has some assets that could win a foreign pharma buyer. The company has consumer brands and prescription meds on sale in Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. It also works as a licensing partner to companies looking to expand in Africa or Asia. With developing countries in that part of the world among the fastest-growing in the drug business, iNova might be seen as an expansion vehicle for the right emerging-markets-minded buyer.

- read the WSJ piece