Abbott Laboratories is buying the pharmaceutical operations of its partner Solvay, saying that it is gaining “a large and complementary portfolio” of products and “a significant presence in key global emerging markets”.

Under the terms of the deal, Abbott is paying 4.5 billion euros in cash and will make additional potential sales milestone payments of up to 300 million euros between 2011 and 2013. It is also taking on liabilities of about 400 million euros.

Abbott said the acquisition, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, will add $0.10 to ongoing earnings per share in 2010, doubling to more than $0.20 by 2012 and increasing thereafter, excluding one-time transaction-related items. The company added that it will fund the transaction with cash currently on the balance sheet.

Noting that Solvay’s pharmaceutical unit will add more than $3 billion in annual sales, the majority outside the USA, Abbott confirmed that the deal includes full global rights to the fenofibrate franchise that the two firms have developed over the years, headed by the cholesterol drugs TriCor and TriLipix.

Abbott chief executive Miles White said that “in anticipation of future market needs, we are ensuring we have the technologies, products, infrastructure and reach to serve patients globally and continue to deliver sustainable industry-leading growth”. Aside from the fenofibrate franchise, Solvay’s principal products include Creon, a pancreatic enzyme replacement product and its Androgel testosterone replacement therapy. It also has treatments for Parkinson's disease, Meniere's disease, vertigo, and irritable bowel syndrome and the acquisition also includes Solvay's vaccines business.

Solvay noted that the decision to sell is the outcome of the “thorough and in-depth analysis and evaluation of the different strategic options for the pharmaceuticals sector”. After closing the transaction, the Brussels-based group said it will reinvest the proceeds “in organic and sizeable external growth” in chemicals and plastics. Chief executive Christian Jourquin said that “Solvay Pharmaceuticals has found a new strong home, within a respected company with a solid and committed position in the industry”.

News of Abbott’s winning bid will come as a disappointment to Nycomed which had been seen as the frontrunner in the race to buy the unit.