ZURICH Aug 12 Galenica said on Tuesday it planned to list its pharmaceutical and healthcare units and appointed new heads of both divisions in preparation for such action "when the time is right".
In a separate interview published on Galenica's website, chairman Etienne Jornod said Vifor, the drug division, would be equipped to stand alone in three to five years.
The Bern-based firm said it would hire Shire executive Soren Tulstrup as head of its drugs division and appoint Joerg Kneubuehler, currently finance chief of Galenica, as head of its healthcare division.
Tulstrup and Kneubuehler, who will both report to Jornod, replace Galenica Chief Executive David Ebsworth, who will advise special projects until he retires in one year.
"With this move, the Board of Directors of the Galenica Group is creating the best possible conditions for both the Vifor Pharma and Galenica Sante units to prepare to become listed, independent companies when the time is right," the Bern-based company said in a statement.
Galenica's drug unit is best known for iron deficiency treatments such as Injectafer. The healthcare arm runs several chains of pharmacies in Switzerland.
Major Galenica shareholders include a group around Swiss investor Martin Ebner, which owns 15.76 percent in shares and call options, an investor group linked to Alliance Boots, which owns 25.48 percent, and Swiss bank Credit Suisse with 7.5 percent in shares, options and swaps.
Alongside news of the planned split, Galenica reported a 9 percent drop in first-half net profit to 134.7 million Swiss francs ($148.3 million) as sales rose nearly 1 percent.
(1 US dollar = 0.9082 Swiss franc) (Reporting By Katharina Bart and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Sophie Walker)