Roche pays 90m pounds for Fisons' health arm

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The Independent Online
FISONS, the troubled pharmaceuticals group, has sold its UK consumer health business to Roche Holdings, the Swiss giant, for pounds 90m in cash.

The move is part of Fisons' strategy to withdraw from non- drug-related activities and follows last week's dollars 140m ( pounds 92.3m) disposal of its US and Canadian consumer health businesses to Ciba- Geigy.

The latest deal, which is subject to regulatory clearance, involves products sold over the counter such as Sanatogen vitamins, Racodol and Radian brands.

However, the group will retain pounds 6m of debtors in the business and some manufacturing and warehousing assets with a total book value of pounds 7m.

The business made an operating profit of pounds 5m on sales of pounds 27m last year. Net assets amounted to pounds 3.5m.

Fisons said it was also in negotiations to sell similar businesses in Australia, South Africa and France, which made a combined operating profit of about pounds 2m last year.

Separately, it is also in talks for the sale of its garden products activities, which could raise more than pounds 100m.

Fisons is aiming to complete its entire disposals programme by the first quarter of next year.

Proceeds from the sale are to be used to repay the group's debts, which totalled about pounds 240m at the half-year. However, Fisons said that the remaining disposals were likely to eliminate its borrowings.

Fisons' shares closed 2p higher at 212p compared with a 12-month low of 150p last September.