Royal DSM of the Netherlands has sold its pharmaceuticals division to US private equity firm JLL Partners as part of a deal worth some $2.60 billion.

The plan is to set up an as-yet-unnamed company that will combining the DSM Pharmaceutical Products (DPP) division with Patheon, a services company that is majority-owned by JLL. By selling its unit, valued at $670 million, DSM will keep a 49% stake in the new company, while JLL is putting $489 million into the venture which in turn will acquire Patheon; the "total enterprise value" of the latter is about $1.95 billion.

This will create "a leading global contract development and manufacturing organisation", says DSM, with 2014 sales of about $2 billion. It will offer finished dosage to active substances and have a global footprint of 23 locations and 8,300 employees; in 2012, DPP had sales of 543 million euros with around 2,400 staff. 

DSM chief executive Feike Sijbesma said that the deal maximises value for the group's business which has seen the group focus more on health and nutrition rather than chemicals and materials. It is now the world's largest manufacturer of vitamins.

The new company will be led by Jim Mullen, chief executive of Patheon and a former CEO of Biogen Idec.