Japanese drugmaker buying Sagent to get U.S. beachhead

syringe

Japan’s Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical has a pipeline of biosimilars it hopes to sell in the U.S. and figures a beachhead there can only help. To enhance its chances, the drugmaker has struck a deal to acquire U.S. sterile injectables maker Sagent Pharmaceuticals for nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Nichi-Iko today said it will pay $21.75 a share, a 40% premium over the Friday closing share price, for Schaumburg, IL-based Sagent ($SGNT). That adds up to $736 million. It expects the deal to close by the end of September.  The Japanese company said it also expects the acquisition to raise its profile in domestic and international generics market and advance the company’s goal of becoming a top 10 global player in generics.

“The U.S. market is a top priority for Nichi-Iko and we believe Sagent is an ideal partner to accelerate our international growth strategy,” Nichi-Iko CEO Yuichi Tamura said in the announcement.

Nichi-Iko isn’t planning any changes to Sagent’s current modus operandi. Its management team remains in charge and will continue to operate Sagent from its headquarters in Schaumburg, IL.

While not a household name in the U.S., Nichi-Iko claims to be the largest generic drug manufacturer in Japan by sales, with annual revenues of about $100 million. It has a portfolio of 50 products and has developed a business of producing drugs for the Japanese market for Western drugmakers.

Sagent Pharmaceuticals jumped into the sterile injectables manufacturing arena a decade ago, backed by private equity money and sporting a unique model. Its initial play was to concentrate on high-demand generics but instead of manufacturing them itself, it put together a network of dozens of contractors to source its ingredients and get its finished products. It has since added a manufacturing plant in China.

The drugmaker earlier this year figured it needed to bulk up to compete and reportedly put itself on the market. A half dozen Indian drugmakers, companies such as Cipla, Lupin and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories ($RDY), were said to be eyeing it, but Nichi-Iko swept in to claim the prize.

-here’s the release

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