Growth-happy Nycomed buys Sanofi drug rights

Nycomed isn't stopping at its bid for Solvay's pharma division. The Swiss company has snapped up rights to 20 branded generic drugs, aiming to beef up its business in central and eastern Europe. "The agreement will notably strengthen Nycomed's market position ... in the Czech Republic and Slovakia," the company said in a statement. Annual sales from the licensed meds: about €17 million, or $24.34 million.

As you know, Nycomed is one of the last bidders standing in Solvay's closely followed review of its pharma options. The Belgian company hired Citibank in January to assess the possibilities for the pharmaceuticals unit: growing, selling, or standing pat. A number of drugmakers came calling, but few reportedly ended up bidding, with Nycomed as one of the two still in the race. That deal could be worth $4 billion to $5 billion, depending on which analysts are doing the estimating.

The final aim for Nycomed: An IPO. The company is owned by two investor groups that apparently are anxious to take their returns. Nycomed tried unsuccessfully to sell itself earlier this year; the new tack seems to be growing itself into a public offering. A deal for Solvay would double its size, the Wall Street Journal points out, dwarfing today's drug buy. But every little bit helps. 

- see the Nycomed release
- read the news from Reuters
- get the WSJ Deal Journal's take