LONDON (AP) -- AstraZeneca PLC is selling its Astra Tech dental business, the world's third-largest maker of dental implants, for $1.8 billion, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company announced Wednesday.
The buyer, DENTSPLY International Inc., said the acquisition would raise its annual revenue by about 25 percent and double its share of the high growth market for dental implants.
"The level of innovation and clinical research at Astra Tech is extremely complementary with our existing business and strategy and will clearly differentiate us from our competition," said Bret Wise, chairman and chief executive of DENTSPLY, based in York, Pennsylvania.
Astra Tech is based in Moelndal, Sweden, has 2,200 employees worldwide and reported revenue of $535 million last year.
The sale is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.
Analysts said the disposal made strategic sense for AstraZeneca, given that the unit was distinct from the company's main business of developing drugs. Gains from the sale could also boost dividends next year.
Jeremy Batstone-Carr, analyst at Charles Stanley & Co., noted that AstraZeneca is facing the expiration of several lucrative patents.
"Given the apparent paucity of late-stage pipeline products it is possible that AstraZeneca might invest in specifically targeted therapeutic areas, or to expand its interest in worldwide branded generic operations," he said.
Shares in AstraZeneca were fractionally higher at 2,026.5 pence in late morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.