Global investment group Advent International says it has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy Sanofi’s generics arm Zentiva for 1.9 billion Euros ($2.4 billion).

The move, which comes as Sanofi continues to simplify and reshape its business operations, would create a new, independent, European generics leader, Advent said.

"Zentiva is a robust business with a highly talented workforce and we believe it has demonstrated its potential for growth. Following a comprehensive review of strategic options for our generics unit in Europe, we have determined that transferring this business to Advent is the best option to ensure its long-term success," said Olivier Brandicourt, Sanofi’s chief executive, explaining the decision.

"We have long been attracted to the generic pharmaceutical sector as it enables more people to access high quality treatments by lowering their cost,” said Advent managing directors Tom Allen, also co-head of Advent International's European Healthcare team, and Cédric Chateau, also head of Advent International in France.

“We believe that Zentiva is a great platform, full of talented people, who we can invest behind to build a new, independent, European generics leader”.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

Reuters quoted Jerome Schupp, fund manager at Geneva-based Prime Partners, as commenting: “The sale price is decent, but nothing that extraordinary. Sanofi will probably re-invest the proceeds in looking to make pharma or biotech acquisitions. They are looking to strengthen their pipeline, which is a bit weak at the moment”.

Sanofi recently snapped up Belgian drugmaker Ablynx under a deal valued at around 3.9 billion Euros, beating Novo Nordisk to the finish line.