Takeda scouts buyers for Latin America business, a deal that could fetch $1B: report

Takeda has invited Brazilian drugmakers and private equity investors to bid for its Latin American business. (Takeda)

Chatter about debt-laden Takeda looking to sell assets after the Shire megadeal just keeps coming. This time, it’s the Japanese pharma’s Latin American business that's reportedly on the block.

Takeda has invited Brazilian drugmakers and private equity investors to bid for the business, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources. The potential buyers include Ache Laboratorios Farmaceuticos, EMS Pharma, Biolab Farmaceutica and Eurofarma Laboratorios, as well as investment shop Advent International, the news service said.

While the entire franchise could be worth $1 billion, some bidders may only be interested in the Brazilian section, Reuters said.

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The news follows a Bloomberg report that Takeda is weighing the sale of some emerging-markets products that could fetch about $3 billion. It’s not clear whether the Latin American sale is part of the bigger emerging-market selloff or a separate one.

It’s no surprise Takeda is swinging the ax again, considering the load of debt it took on to buy Shire for $62 billion. Other rumored hive-offs include its European over-the-counter business, which could collect around $1 billion; Shire’s Xiidra eye drops and hypoparathyroidism drug Natpara, which reportedly could raise up to $5 billion; and the Tachosil brand of surgical patches, a $500 million franchise that has attracted interest from the likes of Baxter and Johnson & Johnson, according to Bloomberg last month.

One pipeline drug is destined to be cut. As part of its promise to win EU antitrust approval for the Shire buyout, which closed in January, Takeda will sell inflammatory bowel disease candidate SHP 627, a potential competitor to Takeda’s own Entyvio.

RELATED: Emerging markets drugs worth $3B could be next on Takeda’s chopping board: report

Latin America represents about 4% of Takeda’s revenue. In the 2017 fiscal year ended March 2018, the operation ginned up 75.7 billion Japanese yen ($678 million), up about 4.4% year over year. But its revenue declined by 2.8% in the nine months ended Dec. 31. The company hasn't yet reported numbers for its 2018 fiscal year.

In Brazil, Takeda sells medicines in the therapeutic areas of oncology, gastroenterology and vaccines, and it markets OTC products such as the headache med Neosaldina, digestive aid Eparema and skin infection treatment Nebacetin.

Takeda actually took a step back from Brazil last April, right after it confirmed its move to take over Shire. Just six years after it acquired Multilab for 500 million Brazilian real ($130 million) upfront, Takeda sold off the Brazil-based, wholly owned unit to Novamed, part of the NC Group that owns some of the largest pharma firms in Brazil. Right after that, Takeda sold its majority 51.34% stake in China’s Techpool Bio-Pharma to joint venture partner Shanghai Pharma, netting $280 million.

Still, Takeda is among the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in Brazil, according to its website. Across its local headquarters in São Paulo and a factory in Jaguariúna, the company has about 1,300 employees

Emerging markets such as Latin America are usually associated with growth for the pharma industry, but that’s not always the case. Their turbulent economic and political environments can prove difficult for multinational pharma companies to navigate. Pfizer, for example, bowed out of a Brazilian generics joint venture after $240 million evaporated into just 1 real (30 cents). Venezuela, which has been going through a full-on economic crisis for years, dealt a huge inflation-related blow to Novartis in 2015.

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