Simcere Wants to Sell OTC Division, Add Prescription Drug Partnerships

May.17.10 | About: Simcere Pharmaceutical (SCR)

Simcere Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: SCR), a company that sells high-end generic drugs, wants to sell its OTC drug division and has hired Merrill Lynch as an investment advisor. At the same time, the company is seeking to add to its prescription product offerings through partnerships with Western companies. Simcere said it expects to close two deals before the end of 2010 that will add $42.8 million in annual revenue.

The news came from an article in mergermarket and contained comments from Peng Wang, who became Chief Scientific Officer of Simcere in 2009 after serving as VP of Biology at WuXi PhamaTech (NYSE: WX). Wang says that Merrill Lynch has been bringing potential buyers or target companies to Simcere “almost every week.”

Simcere’s ostensible reason for selling its OTC drugs is that they constitute only a small part of the company’s revenue. In 2009, they produced only 10% of Simcere’s $270 million in total sales. On the other hand, the company’s biggest revenue producers, two edaravone injection products that treat cancer, were responsible for almost 40% of Simcere’s revenues, or $109 million.

According to Wang, several western pharmaceutical companies have begun talking to Simcere about forming partnerships for distributing their drugs in China. Because Simcere has an active R&D program, these talks often take a turn, and the companies propose acquiring all of Simcere. Simcere always declines these proposals, preferring to stay independent.

Since its 2007 IPO on the NYSE, Simcere has been active in the M&A scene, adding products, pieces of companies and China licenses to build its portfolio. In 2009, it announced a collaboration with San Francisco-based Epitomics to develop mAb drugs for cancer. Simcere will own the China rights to any drugs discovered in the collaboration. Simcere also produces the biologic anti-angiogenesis cancer drug Endu. It acquired the China rights to a dual-mechanism cancer drug from OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NSDQ: OSIP) in late 2009.

Simcere ended 2009 with $67 million in cash. At its last reported price of $8.01 per share, Simcere has a market capitalization of $445 million.

Disclosure: none.