Roche weighs options for struggling diabetes-care business, including a sale

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG is weighing options for its struggling diabetes-care business including a sale, Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Basel-based company is looking at alternatives including a partial sale of the business or a spinoff, the report said and added that a sale could fetch as much as $5 billion.

Private equity firms and medical-device makers could be interested in acquiring some or all of Roche's business, but the large size may make it difficult to find buyers, making a spinoff an attractive alternative, the report added.

Roche's diabetes-care business has been struggling with sales declining to 2.13 billion Swiss francs ($2.19 billion) in 2015 from 2.39 billion in 2014 and to 1.48 billion francs ($1.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2016.

Other large drugmakers have exited the business amid price declines. Bayer sold its diabetes care business last year to a KKR-Panasonic joint venture for $1.13 billion, while Johnson & Johnson said it was exploring options including a sale, partnerships or joint ventures for its diabetes-care business.

Roche holds a 23-per cent market share in diabetes testing, ahead of its three big rivals - Johnson & Johnson's LifeScan unit, Abbott Laboratories, and KKR/Panasonic.