Citi selling Turkish drugmaker Biofarma - sources

* JPMorgan said to handle sale, has sent “teasers” out

* Auction could lure Big Pharma, major generics players

LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Citigroup's C.N venture capital arm and two co-investors have begun an auction of Turkish copycat drugmaker Biofarma, three people familiar with the matter said, in what could be Turkey's biggest healthcare deal.

The owners of Biofarma Pharmaceutical Industry hired JPMorgan to manage the sale, the people said on Monday.

The bank has recently sent out short sale documents to drum up interest in the business, they said. It will now distribute longer information packs and seek indicative bids.

Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI) and fellow investor Partners in Life Sciences (PiLS) bought Biofarma for about $200 million in 2007 and later sold a stake to Greek private equity firm Global Finance.

Biofarma, CVCI and Global Finance did not immediately respond to requests for comment. JPMorgan declined to comment. Reuters could not locate a PiLS representative.

In October Reuters first reported the trio were considering selling the business in a $500 million-plus deal. Turkey’s biggest healthcare deal to date is a $603 million takeover by Zentiva NV in 2007. [ID:nLDE69B0PP]

Biofarma offers a rare chance to gain full control of a sizeable emerging markets player without family ownership or another controlling investor.

It could attract both larger generics manufacturers and major drugmakers looking to build a base in Turkey, whose pharmaceutical market is growing more than 7 percent a year.

Abbott Laboratories ABT.N, GlaxoSmithKline Plc GSK.L, Pfizer Inc PFE.N, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd TEVA.OTEVA.TA and Sandoz, the generics unit of Novartis AG NOVN.VX, are among likely bidders, one of the people said.

CVCI is also preparing to sell Amoun, one of Egypt’s biggest drugmakers, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Oct. 20. It owns Amoun with two other co-investors. [ID:nLDE69J2IX] (Reporting by Quentin Webb; Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Istanbul; Editing by David Holmes)


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