Straumann, Nobel Biocare drop bids for Astra Tech

Swiss dental implant makers Straumann and Nobel Biocare have reportedly dropped out of the running for AstraZeneca's Astra Tech unit, which makes dental implants and medical devices. However, Zimmer and Dentsply, two U.S. companies, could be interested in buying the dental part of the business, Reuters reports, citing sources.

The bidding for Astra Tech has attracted a lot of interest, and parties can bid for either Astra Tech's dental implant business, the medical devices arm, or the business as a whole. Second round bids are due June 6, Reuters cites sources as saying. AstraZeneca said it was working with JP Morgan to review "strategic options" for the unit. And a spokesman said the company is evaluating options for maximizing value and a final decision will come when the results of the review have concluded, according to the Telegraph.

AstraZeneca began the £1.3 billion ($2.1 billion) auction of Astra Tech in April. Bids were submitted by more than 10 companies. Private equity firms Bridgepoint, Cinven of Britain and France's PAI Partners made offers, as well as Warburg Pincus and Zimmer.

Astra Tech's 2010 revenues topped $535 million. Its device business focuses mainly on urology products and its dental division is the world's third-biggest dental implant company. As Reuters notes, the sale of Astra Tech highlights AstraZeneca's focus on boosting returns to shareholders as it faces the expiration of patents on a number of top-selling meds, including Nexium and Seroquel.  

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- check out the Telegraph story