AstraZeneca has told PharmaTimes World News that talks to sell its Swedish dental and medical devices unit Astra Tech are at an advanced stage and a deal could be confirmed shortly.

The Financial Times has reported that the US firm Dentsply International is in pole position to buy Astra Tech in a deal that could be worth $1.8 billion. The newspaper claims that the dental equipment maker has outbid other potential buyers, including private equity group EQT Partners and medical firm Biomet, and has been granted exclusivity in the negotiations.

One person familiar with the sales process told the FT that Dentsply has made a much higher offer than other bidders and it had been believed to be mainly interested purely in the dental unit. It is suggested that the other parts of Astra Tech, which had revenues of $535 million last year, may be sold off later.

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman told PharmaTimes World News that "discussions are still ongoing" and it is too early to comment. However, she added that "we are not far off".