May 30, 2018 / 2:03 PM / 7 months ago

Allergan plans sales of women's health, infectious disease units

NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - Drugmaker Allergan Plc plans to sell off its women’s health and infectious disease businesses as Chief Executive Brent Saunders works to end the steep slide in its share price over the last year.

Saunders said that after the sales, the company would focus on four core businesses: medical aesthetics, central nervous system, eye care and gastrointestinal products.

“We have a very strong pipeline in all those areas. Having a focus on those four areas will make Allergan a more exciting company,” he said in an interview.

Allergan’s board launched a major review of strategy earlier this year and considered more drastic options like splitting the company or making acquisitions, as its sagging stock price required the company to look at all options “with a sense of urgency.”

Shares of Allergan closed at $151.03 on Tuesday, down more than 40 percent from last July.

Saunders said the decision by the board to shed just those two businesses was unanimous.

Investors hoping for a dramatic shift in the Botox maker’s strategy may be disappointed. Some analysts have suggested a breakup of the company could create value, but Allergan’s executives have argued the process would be difficult, lengthy and costly, limiting its benefits.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky has lobbied for splitting Allergan into one growth-focused business and another segment that holds its more mature assets.

He wrote earlier this month that just selling off women’s health and infectious diseases would not bring in sufficient proceeds for meaningful redeployment of capital and would fail to change how investors value the company.

“In other words, we do not think that would be enough,” he wrote.

Assuming a 30 percent premium for the businesses, Stanicky said the infectious diseases business could be worth around $1.5 billion, while women’s health could be worth more than double that.

One issue that could slow the sale of the women’s health business is a ruling on safety by U.S. regulators for its uterine fibroids treatment Esmya, expected in August.

Saunders said potential buyers would probably want to wait out that decision before completing a deal.

He said proceeds from the sales would likely be split between paying down debt and share buybacks. (Reporting by Michael Erman in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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