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Exclusive: AbbVie in talks to sell $5 billion women's drugs portfolio - sources

FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the share price for drugmaker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker AbbVie Inc is in discussions to sell a roughly $5 billion portfolio of women’s drugs acquired last year through its $63 billion purchase of Botox maker Allergan Plc, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The move revives a process to sell the business, which makes the Lo Loestrin Fe birth control pill, that Allergan started in 2018 only to ditch five months before being acquired by AbbVie in 2019.

AbbVie is working with investment bank Morgan Stanley on an auction process that has attracted interest from private equity firms including CVC Capital Partners, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The portfolio generates 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of about $500 million and could be valued at about 10 times its EBITDA, the sources added.

AbbVie, Morgan Stanley and CVC declined to comment.

AbbVie has been relying heavily on its blockbuster psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira to drive up sales and beat revenue forecasts.

But with Humira’s U.S. patent protection expiring in 2023, AbbVie needs to pay down some $143.7 billion of debt amassed through the Allergan purchase in order to focus on new investments.

The sources said CVC could use the AbbVie division to bulk up its portfolio company Theramex, formed in 2018 through its acquisition of the international women’s health assets of Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

London-based Theramex, led by Chief Executive Robert Stewart, makes birth control pills Zoely and Seasonique, as well as osteoporosis drug Actonel.

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia and Arno Schuetze, additional reporting by Rebecca Spalding; Editing by Richard Chang and Sonya Hepinstall

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