Management at Piramal Healthcare has once again denied rumours that it will sell off a sizeable chunk of the Indian drugmaker’s stock amid reports that talks have been held with Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis.

The company’s shares leapt but quickly fell back again after the Mumbai-based group issued a statement to the stock exchange that “there is no proposal by the promoter for selling any stake in the company”. Piramal made a similar declaration in February last year, saying that rumours of a sale to GlaxoSmithKline or Sanofi were “totally unfounded".

This time Sanofi was mentioned again in reports as a potential purchaser but the Indian business news channel CNBC-TV18 claimed that Pfizer had made a bigger bid. The Indian press has reported that the New York-based drugs giant is looking to bag a 51% stake, 30% of which would be bought from the Piramal family. The figures being bandied about would value any such deal at up to $1.9 billion.

Pfizer’s interest in the Indian market is clear and only last week the company extended its agreement with Strides Arcolab which will see the latter supply oncology for marketing in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea, as well as the USA. In May last year, Pfizer signed licensing deals with two other Indian firms Aurobindo Pharma and Claris Lifesciences and the firm has also been linked with purchasing Dr Reddy’s Indian branded formulations business.

Sanofi too has upped its presence in India and earlier this month it signed a deal with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals giving it access to the latter’s investigational treatments for pain. Last July, the French drugmaker took control of Indian vaccines specialist Shantha Biotechnics.

Sanofi to buy Polish group outright
Meantime, Sanofi has launched a public tender offer to buy 100% of the Polish consumer healthcare company Nepentes in a deal valued at 105 million euros.

Sanofi, Nepentes and its controlling shareholders, which in total own about 63% of the company, have agreed to tender all their shares to the Paris-headquartered firm’s local unit and promised not to accept any competing offer. The Warsaw-based company specialises in dermocosmetics, and had sales of around 30 million euros last year.