German pharmaceuticals and chemicals group Altana sells pharmaceutical business to Danish drug company Nycomed for ?4.5 billion

The German pharmaceuticals and chemicals group Altana has sold its entire pharmaceutical business - Altana Pharma - to Danish drug company Nycomed. The sale, worth €4.5 billion (?3 billion), will allow Altana to focus on its speciality chemicals business, Altana Chemie.

Altana was a rare example of a European drug-chemical conglomerate. Splitting pharmaceutical from chemical divisions follows a path laid down by ICI in 1993, when it spun off its pharmaceutical business to form Zeneca (now part of AstraZeneca). Since then, Sandoz (now part of Novartis) has spun off its chemical business to form Clariant; Novartis has spun off its chemical business into Ciba Speciality Chemicals; and Aventis has spun off its chemical business, Rhodia. 

This is the most defining moment in the 29-year history of Altana, according to CEO Nikolaus Schweickart. ’In Nycomed we have found a strategic match for our pharmaceutical business,’ he said. ’Combining Altana Pharma’s market strength and research capabilities with Nycomed’s strong position within development and in-licensing provides a sustainable future for the new company.’

The spin off will become part of Nycomed, with an HQ in Zurich, Switzerland, and R&D base in Konstanz, Germany. Transfer of the business is planned for 1 January 2007.

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