Novartis said today it agreed to sell its blood transfusion diagnostics unit to Grifols for $1.675 billion—in the pharma giant’s first move toward a sell-off of some operations widely expected by analysts and others.
Novartis inherited the unit when it acquired Chiron in 2006, and folded it into its vaccines and diagnostics division. Headquartered in Emeryville, CA, the unit saw net sales last year of about $565 million.
The unit markets nucleic acid testing, blood testing products, and immunoassay reagents designed to detect infectious disease and enhance transfusion safety. While the unit is being sold, Novartis opted to keep within vaccines and diagnostics a companion diagnostics unit integrated into the company’s pharmaceuticals business, as well as Genoptix, a provider of personalized diagnostic services acquired by Novartis in 2011 for about $470 million.
“The sale of the Novartis blood transfusion diagnostics unit enables us to focus more sharply on our strategic businesses while providing Grifols with a platform for global expansion,” Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said in a statement.
The deal, which requires customary regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014.
Novartis announced the deal just four days after confirming a restructuring of R&D operations that it said would eliminate up to 500 jobs companywide while adding 175 jobs in Cambridge, MA. The restructuring also entails the shutdown of a cancer research program in Emeryville (where Novartis confirmed to GEN last month plans to eliminate some 50 research jobs among the site’s more than 900 positions); a respiratory R&D site in Horsham, West Sussex, U.K.; a biologic development site in San Diego; and a dermatology research site in Vienna.
On November 4, a Bloomberg news report attributed to two unnamed sources stated that Novartis was seeking buyers for its vaccines and diagnostics division as well as its animal health and over-the-counter (OTC) businesses.
The OTC business, part of Novartis’ consumer health division, and vaccines and diagnostics represent two of five divisions for the pharma giant. The other three are pharmaceuticals, Sandoz generic drugs and biosimilars, and Alcon eyecare.
Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, Grifols is the world’s third largest producer of plasma-derived therapies.