Sanofi trades Seprafilm unit to Baxter for $350M in cash ahead of strategy launch

Sanofi has moved to offload its Seprafilm surgical barrier business, setting up a large infusion of cash for early next year as its new CEO prepares to unveil his new strategic priorities for the company. The French drugmaker aims to trade the unit to Baxter International in return for $350 million.

Since Paul Hudson was installed as chief of Sanofi Sept. 1, rumors have spread about those priorities, including one forecasting the company’s potential exit from the consumer healthcare sector, possibly through a sale or spinoff of its larger, $5 billion customer-focused unit.

There’s a chance that all will be revealed next week—with a Capital Markets Day and presentations scheduled for Dec. 10, at Sanofi’s offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over the past few months in preparation, Hudson has been on a global “listening tour” of the company’s facilities and businesses to look over his options and review every unit in the company.

Previously, Sanofi has looked to broaden its base beyond diabetes and cardiovascular drugs, which have seen recently increased competition. Last year, it spent $11.6 billion for the hemophilia-focused Bioverativ and $4.8 billion for the nanobody biotech Ablynx.

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But when it comes now to Seprafilm—a bioresorbable barrier used to separate different abdominal tissues in the days following surgery, to prevent them from adhering to each other and developing thick scar tissue as they heal—it appears Sanofi felt its division would be better served in a different home.

Baxter said it plans to support the product through its own surgery-focused sales force and that it expects the deal to close within the first quarter of 2020.

"Seprafilm will be a strong complement to our leading hemostat and sealant portfolio, helping us continue to advance the art of healing with optimized patient care in the operating room," Wil Boren, general manager of Baxter's advanced surgery business, said in a statement.

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Adhesions can lead to major complications, such as small bowel obstructions that may require revision surgeries. According to Baxter, about 93% of patients who receive a large surgical incision into the abdominal cavity for a procedure go on to develop an adhesion as the body recovers, with about one in five returning to the operating room.

Baxter expects to see about $100 million from Seprafilm sales in the year following the closure of the deal—driven by an established global presence in the U.S., France, Japan, China and South Korea—and said it plans to pursue new expansion opportunities in certain countries.