Germany’s Evotec has sold off its UK-based chemical development business to Aptuit for around 46.4 million euros as part of its bid to become “an emerging pharmaceutical company”.

Aptuit, a US firm which provides drug development services, will be the new owner of the business which employs 210 people based at sites in Oxford and Glasgow, and generated 26.8 million euros of third-party revenues (or 40% of total Evotec revenues) in 2006. The Connecticut-based group said that it intends to retain all the employees.

Explaining the rationale behind the deal, Evotec chief executive Joern Aldag said that the sale will allow it “to focus even more on its strategy to become an emerging pharmaceutical company, providing higher value research solutions to our partners”. He acknowledged that the chemical development business “has been a mainstay of Evotec for many years” but “the excellent terms achieved in this transaction put us in a much stronger position to leverage our clinical central nervous system assets”.

Mr Aldag concluded by saying that “we are committed to further expand our pipeline and capabilities through in-licensing or mergers and acquisitions”. His counterpart at Aptuit, Michael Griffith, said that the deal means that his firm has “a complete suite of drug development services in all three major geographies in Europe, North America and Asia”.

He claimed that Aptuit will integrate “the highly-regarded scientific staff and two pilot plants in Oxford and state-of-the-art parenteral fill/finish capabilities in Glasgow into our existing global network”. These capabilities will “drive our commercial-scale capabilities in India, providing our clients with world-class drug development services from discovery to commercialisation”, he added, noting that doing a “ cross-border transaction of this magnitude in the current market downturn is due to the strength of our equity partners at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and Temasek”.

Evotec added that the deal will contribute around 25 million euros to its non-operating profit for the fourth quarter and its cash position at the end of 2007 will be improved “significantly” to 93-98 million euros.