Baxter International has agreed to sell its Transfusion Therapies business to private equity investment firm Texas Pacific Group for $540 million.

Transfusion Therapies makes products used by hospitals, blood banks and plasma-collection centres to collect and process blood and blood components for therapeutic use. It has about 3,500 employees and sales of more than $500 million, according to Baxter.

Under the terms of the deal, Texas Pacific gets control of Transfusion Therapies product portfolio of manual and automated blood-collection products and storage equipment, as well as five manufacturing plants in the Dominican Republic, France, Puerto Rico and Tunisia.

The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of 2007.

"While the Transfusion Therapies business is a global leader in the blood-collection and processing industry, this divestiture allows us to increase our focus and investment on businesses with more long-term strategic value for Baxter's shareholders," said the company’s chairman and chief executive Robert Parkinson Jr.

Analyst said the divestment was part of Baxter’s strategy of focusing its energies on higher-margin businesses and reducing its portfolio of commodity items. Sales at the Transfusion Therapies unit have been largely static in recent years, and margins are low.