Bristol-Myers Squibb Selling Medical Imaging Unit

Drug developer will sell the unit to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners for about $525 million as part of a restructuring plan.

NEW YORK (AP) — Drug developer Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Monday it will sell its medical imaging unit to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners for about $525 million (euro365 million) in cash.
 
The unit makes and sells medical imaging products used during ultrasound and diagnostic procedures. It had been on the sales block since earlier this month, when the company announced a series of restructuring moves.
 
''As Bristol-Myers Squibb continues to focus on evolving into a next-generation biopharma company, we determined the best way to maximize the value of medical imaging for shareholders was to sell this business and reinvest the proceeds into our pharmaceutical research, development and commercialization efforts,'' said Bristol-Myers Chief Executive James M. Cornelius in a statement.
 
The medical imaging unit's biggest product, called Cardiolite, had sales of $408 million (euro283.47 million) in 2006, but the product faces increased generic competition after a key patent expires in 2008.
 
Earlier this month, the company said it would lay off about 4,300 employees and close more than half of its manufacturing plants in a move to save $1.5 billion (euro1.04 billion) in costs by 2010. The job cuts represent about 10 percent of the staff. Bristol-Myers also said it is reviewing options for its wound care supplies unit ConvaTec and its Mead Johnson Nutritionals business.
 
The sale of the medical imaging business is expected to close by the end of January.
 
Avista said this marks the company's sixth investment in the health care industry, including the buyout of Boston Scientific Corp.'s fluid management and venous access businesses for $425 million (euro295.28 million) in cash, announced Thursday.
 
Shares of Bristol-Myers fell 27 cents to close at $27.81.
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