AstraZeneca ($AZN) plots $2B sale of device unit

Facing a wave of patent expirations over the next several years, AstraZeneca ($AZN) announced it's planning to sell off its Astra Tech unit, which makes dental implants and medical devices, for about $2 billion. Its medical devices include urological and surgical products. Astra Tech is headquartered Sweden, boasts 2,200 employees worldwide and reported $506 million in 2009 revenue. The Pharma giant has retained JP Morgan to assist with the sale.

According to a Financial Times report, a source notes that 3M and Danaher could be interested in AstraZeneca's device unit; it could also attract other pharma companies looking to diversify away from drugs. The paper adds that European devicemakers Nobel Biocare and Straumann may consider a deal for AstraTech. Reuters, meanwhile, points to Biomet, Medtronic and Dentsply as possible suitors.

Last week, a report found that the medical device sector is ripe for more mergers. The value of deals in the first half of 2010 has already surpassed the total for all of last year, when the financial crisis and concerns over the impact of a new U.S. healthcare law gripped the market.

- check out AstraZeneca's release
- see the Financial Times article
- read the Reuters report for more