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Abbott Laboratories calls off sale of flu vaccine business

Posted on Evalyn Skrobacki on September 4, 2010

Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories has called a halt to the sale of its European flu-vaccine unit because of due to undervaluing initial offers, Abbott’s spokeswoman Melissa Brotz said yesterday, confirming a previous report by The Wall Street Journal.

North Chicago-based Abbott acquired the unit as part of its $6.2 billion purchase of Belgium-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals in February.

“We explored the option to potentially sell the business and determined it was in the best interest of Abbott and the vaccines business to retain it and integrate it into the company,” said Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffell. Analysts speculated that European vaccine powerhouses such as GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG would have been interested in the business.

“After exploring the option to potentially sell Solvay’s vaccine business, Abbott has decided to retain it,” a spokesman for the company told the newspaper.

He refused to comment on the reasons behind Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)’s cancellation of the sales plan.

Abbott has undertaken an aggressive acquisition campaign in the last two years in an effort to diversify its sales. The company’s best-selling product Humira, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, generated nearly a fifth of the company’s revenue last year.

Abbott will retain the activities, which it recently bought from Belgian peer Solvay (EBR:SOLB), without integrating them into its other businesses, the spokeswoman added. According to the report, four to five potential buyers showed interest in the business but their offers valued it at less than EUR500m (USD641.9m), which was below the expectations of Abbott.

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