London: Drugs maker AstraZeneca is close to a deal to sell its dental implants and medical devices firm Astra Tech to Dentsply International for about $1.8 billion, a person familiar with the situation said.
US dental firm Dentsply beat bids from rival medtech groups and private equity firms to gain exclusivity to negotiate a deal, the person said.
Astra Tech, which had revenues last year of $535 million, is the world’s third largest dental implants maker after Straumann and Nobel Biocare. It has a separate medical devices arm focused principally on urology and surgery.
Straumann and Nobel Biocare had both been eyeing the business but pulled out of the process before tabling binding bids, Reuters reported earlier this month.
An agreed deal with Dentsply could be announced as early as this week, the person said.
AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan told Reuters at the weekend that attempts to sell Astra Tech were ongoing, but would not be drawn on a timetable.
“We’ve been working through a process. We had bidders come in. People want to do due diligence .. it shouldn’t drag on forever,” he said.
EQT, had been seen by some people familiar with the situation, as a strong contender to acquire the business, having secured a very competitive financing package from Scandinavian banks to back a deal.
A deal with Dentsply would underline corporate bidders’ resurgent appetite to use cash to make acquisitions and outbid private equity firms for strategic assets.
The auction process, run by JPMorgan, attracted widespread interest with rival medtech companies and private equity firms invited to bid for either Astra Tech’s dental implant business, the medical devices arm, or the business as a whole.
AstraZeneca declined to comment. York, Pennsylvania-based Dentsply was not immediately available for comment.