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Watson buys Greek drugmaker Specifar for $563M

Wed, 05/25/2011 - 8:17am
The Associated Press

Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday it will acquire Specifar Pharmaceuticals SA, a Greek company that develops and sells generic drugs, in a deal worth 400 million euros ($563.1 million).

Watson said Specifar reported revenue of about 85 million euros ($119.6 million) in 2010. However that total could grow significantly because Specifar could be able to start selling a generic version of the popular heartburn drug Nexium in Europe as early as the fourth quarter. Worldwide sales of Nexium totaled $4.97 billion in 2010, with $1.2 billion of those sales coming from Western European markets alone.

The deal includes up to 40 million euros ($56.3 million) in cash depending on sales of generic Nexium. Nexium, or esomeprazole, is one of the best-selling products sold by British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC. The drug has patent protection in the U.S. for several more years. Under an agreement with AstraZeneca, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. will start marketing a generic version in May 2014.

Specifar is one of the largest sellers of brand-name generic products in Greece, but gets most of its revenue from developing generics and licensing them to other companies.

Watson said the purchase expands its business in key European markets and a strong presence in the Greek market. The Parsippany, N.J., company reported $2.34 billion in revenue in 2010.

Watson shares rose 81 cents to $62.65 in midday trading.

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