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Company news

March 23, 2011

Zimmer Holdings Inc. and Biomet Inc., both based in Warsaw, are among the bidders for AstraZeneca Plc’s Astra Tech, a Swedish unit that makes dental implants and medical devices, reported Bloomberg, citing two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Astra Tech may sell for $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion, according to a research note by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein. Astra Tech, which also makes medical devices for urology and surgery, had sales last year of $535 million. It employs 2,200 and operates in 16 markets. Separately, Zimmer won a $13.5 million contract to sell orthopedic implants to the U.S. Department of Defense. The new contract is guaranteed for one year, with the possibility of four one-year renewals.

Elanco, the animal health unit of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., which this month agreed to acquire Johnson & Johnson’s European animal health unit, also had its eyes on another target, according to a Reuters report. A now-abandoned joint venture between the animal health businesses of New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. and France-based Sanofi-Aventis SA anticipated selling off some assets for roughly $1 billion, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. The news agency reported that Elanco paid roughly $300 million to Johnson & Johnson, in order to acquire 50 animal health medicines sold under the name Janssen Animal Health. Elanco is the world’s fourth-largest animal health company, with $1.4 billion in annual revenue.

How’s this for financing drug development? Even though it hadn’t brought a single product even close to the market, Carmel-based Marcadia Biotech Inc. was sitting on $37 million in cash when it agreed to sell itself in December to Switzerland-based Roche. The money piled up not from venture capitalists but through Marcadia’s research partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies, primarily with New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. “Our venture-capital firms were going crazy. They never had a company that had to pay taxes,” said Fritz French, former CEO of the 11-person firm, which had attracted $15 million from investors early in its existence. French and his management team sold Marcadia for $287 million, with the possibility of reaping $250 million more if one of Marcadia’s experimental diabetes drugs makes it to market.

Elkhart General Healthcare System and Memorial Hospital and Health System of South Bend have agreed to merge. The two hospitals signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a parent organization that will operate both systems. Memorial CEO Phil Newbold will lead the combined organization. According to Newbold, the affiliation will attract more physicians to engage with the new system and help direct its future. “Together, Elkhart General and Memorial will have more than 700 highly skilled, well-trained physicians on staff. This shared medical expertise will enable us to attract even more specialized professionals to the area and produce the region’s highest quality of care,” Newbold said. Memorial Hospital boasts 526 beds. Elkhart General has 325 beds.

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