Low bids spur Abbott to cancel vax-unit sale

On second thought, we'll keep it. That's Abbott Laboratories' (NYSE: ABT) answer to lower-than-expected bids for its European flu vaccines business. While several bidders entered the fray, their offers were less than €500 million ($640 million), the Wall Street Journal reports, not enough to tempt Abbott executives.

Abbott acquired the flu-vax unit as part of its $7 billion acquisition of the Belgian drugs group Solvay Pharmaceuticals. "We explored the option of potentially selling the vaccine business," spokeswoman Melissa Brotz tells Reuters. "We have now decided to retain it."

The vaccines unit is profitable, and it's expected to generate about €200 million ($256 million) in sales this year, the WSJ reports. It's also active in Eastern Europe, which is a market ripe for growth in vaccines. And vaccines is one business that's getting more attention from drugmakers these days, as they work to diversify beyond prescription drugs.

Now that Abbott has decided to keep it, the unit will be integrated into the Chicago-based company's other operations. As the Journal points out, that suggests Abbott plans to hang onto the business indefinitely, rather than turn around and try to sell it again soon.

- check out the WSJ piece
- read the Reuters news