China gives its official thumbs up to Sorin-MicroPort partnership

The Chinese government approved a joint venture between Italian cardiac device giant Sorin and MicroPort Scientific, paving the way for the new company to grab a share of the country's growing healthcare market.

The combined company, called MicroPort Sorin CRM (Shanghai), will focus on importing, selling and servicing Sorin's cardiac rhythm management devices in China, as well as the development and production of CRM-related products for the Chinese market. So far, the two companies have invested a combined $20 million in the venture, which was approved May 6 by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce. Operations are expected to begin in June, the company said in a release.

According to the deal announcement released earlier this year, Sorin invested $9.8 million in the venture for a 49% stake, while MicroPort chipped in $10.2 million for a 51% majority position. MicroPort makes cardiovascular medical devices as well as orthopedic, electrophysiological, endovascular, neurovascular, surgery, diabetes care and endocrinal management products.

André-Michel Ballester, CEO of Sorin Group, has forecasted that CRM sales in China will expand at double-digit rates "in the foreseeable future."

Sorin and MicroPort are hardly alone venturing into the Chinese market. Medtronic ($MDT), Boston Scientific ($BSX) and Covidien ($COV) are all present there. Recently, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), which has been doing business in China for 28 years, said it will begin manufacturing and selling surgical plates and screws in the country, and that it had entered into an agreement with Nova Biomedical to supply Chinese hospitals with its StatStrip, a blood glucose testing system.

- read the MicroPort Sorin release

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