AstraZeneca sells dental unit for $1.8 billion

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Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca on Wednesday said it had agreed to sell its Astra Tech unit to US dental implant manufacturer Dentsply International for $1.8 billion (1.25 billion euros).

The cash deal for the dental division, which is expected to complete this year subject to regulatory clearances, supports the London-listed drugmaker's strategy of focusing on medicine development and increasing returns for shareholders.

"Following a comprehensive strategic review, we believe this transaction represents an excellent outcome for AstraZeneca shareholders," AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said in a company statement.

Astra Tech, which is based in Molndal on the west coast of Sweden, researches, develops and produces dental implants. It also makes advanced medical devices for the healthcare sector, particularly for urology and surgery.

The division, which has global revenues of $535 million and 2,200 employees, was put up for sale last year.

AstraZeneca's share price edged up 0.05 percent to 3,026.5 pence in early Wednesday trade on London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies, which was down by 0.50 percent in value.

Mike Mitchell, analyst at stockbroker Seymour Pierce, said the sale was a logical decision for AstraZeneca.

"Astra Tech's focus on dental and healthcare markets was distinct from the remainder of the business, and considering the increasingly competitive nature of global medtech, the rationale for disposal is straightforward," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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