Nicotine patch maker LTS Lohmann attracts bidders - sources

Reuters

FRANKFURT, Oct 11 (Reuters) - German medical skin patchmaker LTS Lohmann has attracted offers valuing the company at1.1-1.3 billion euros ($1.5-1.8 billion), three people familiarwith the sale said.

Japan's Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical has bid along withBlackstone, which is looking to combine LTS with its drugcontract manufacturing subsidiary Catalent, and KKR,which is seeking to complement its hard capsules maker Capsugel.

Separately, private equity groups EQT, CVC, NordicCapital, Carlyle and Wendel have placed offers.

German specialty chemicals maker Evonik and Niveaskin cream maker Beiersdorf showed initial interestbut did not take part in the auction, the sources said.

The bids value the group at about 12 times earnings beforeinterest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about95 million euros. Listed healthcare companies in Europe trade ata multiple of about 10, StarMine data shows.

LTS Lohmann's owners, which include Novartis witha 43 percent stake, met on Friday to discuss the offers, one ofthe sources said.

German billionaire Dietmar Hopp, who co-founded softwaregiant SAP, holds about 30 percent while Germaninvestment company BWK owns a 24 percent stake.

Sources told Reuters in July that Morgan Stanley had beenhired to find a buyer for LTS Lohmann.

Bankers were putting together about 700 million euros ofdebt financing to back the sale of the medical patch maker,banking sources said earlier this month.

LTS Lohmann makes 286 million euros in annual sales fromnicotine and other medical patches to treat conditions includingParkinson's and Restless Legs Syndrome.

A likely sticking point in negotiations will be whether LTSLohmann can succeed in preventing generic drugmakers fromlaunching cheap copies of its Exelon patch for mild to moderatedementia. Novartis has sued Actavis for trying to bringits version to market.

Transdermal patches of the type made by LTS have becomeincreasingly important in the drugs industry since they offer aconvenient and reliable way of delivering a variety ofmedicines.

A spokesman for Dietmar Hopp's investment vehicle and theprivate equity groups declined to comment.

Hisamitsu, Novartis and BWK were not immediately availablefor comment.

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