Biocon to divest stake in Germany's AxiCorp

More than three years after it acquired a controlling stake in German drug distributor AxiCorp GmbH, Bangalore-based Biocon Ltd, today said that it is selling its stake in the firm to its minority shareholders.

AxiCorp is a specialised marketing and distribution company established in 2002 by a group of industry professionals to address the lucrative generics and parallel distribution market in Germany and Europe.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, MD Biocon''The relevance of AxiCorp has changed after we did the Pfizer deal,'' Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon said after announcing the stake sale. ''Therefore we believe that it's in the best interest of all for us to exit.''

Biocon, which acquired a 78-per cent stake in AxiCorp in February 2008 for about $43.7 million (See: Biocon to acquire European pharma distributor AxiCorp to enter Europe) , is selling the shares for about $59.37 million.

In October, Bangalore-based Biocon had sold the global rights to commercialise bio-similar diabetes treatment to Pfizer Inc, allowing it to sell the drugs in less-regulated emerging markets, followed by Europe and finally in the US. The Biocon-Pfizer global insulins alliance was established for the worldwide commercialisation of Biocon's bio-similar versions of insulin and insulin analog products including recombinant human insulin, Glargine, Aspart and Lispro.

The AxiCorp acquisition was a key strategic investment for Biocon as the acquisition was intended to enable the marketing and distribution of a range of Biocon pharmaceuticals including generics, biosimilars like recombinant human insulin, biologics and innovative pharmaceutical products in Germany and Europe.

However, AxiCorp was forced to cut prices of its drugs by the German government as part of its move to reduce drug prices and make healthcare affordable. Germany raised the compulsory rebate on generic drugs to 16 per cent, hurting the prospects of companies like AxiCorp.