Funds News

UPDATE 1-AstraZeneca confirms eyeing Astra Tech spin-off

* JP Morgan hired to help with strategic review of business

* Source had previously said plan to sell unit for $2 bln

* U.S., European firms seen potential buyers of medtech unit

(Adds quote, details, background)

LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca AZN.L confirmed on Friday it was considering spinning off Astra Tech and had hired JP Morgan Chase JPM.N to help with a strategic review of the dental implants and medical devices unit.

A source familiar with the situation said earlier this week that the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker was looking to sell the Swedish-based business for some $2 billion after hiring the bank as adviser. [ID:nN15278762]

“AstraZeneca continues to evaluate all alternatives for value maximisation from this business and any final decision will only be made when the results of the review have concluded,” the company said in a brief statement.

The Astra Tech business could be of interest to U.S. companies such as privately held Biomet, Medtronic MDT.N, 3M MMM.N, Danaher DHR.N and Dentsply International XRAY.O, as well as private equity firms, according to industry analysts.

In Europe, it is also likely to be looked at by Swiss dental implant firms Nobel Biocare NOBN.VX and Straumann STMN.S. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Kate Kelland)