France's top drugmaker, Sanofi, has entered exclusive talks with private equity firm Advent International over the sale of its European generics business for €1.9bn (£1.6bn).
The global investor has made a binding and fully financed offer for Zentiva, and Sanofi said the deal is expected to close by the end of 2018.
"Following a comprehensive review of strategic options for our generic 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.
Tom Allen, co-head of Advent's European healthcare team, and Cedric Chateau, head of Advent in France, said Zentiva offers a great platform full of talented people "who we can invest behind to build a new, independent, European generics leader".
In recent months, Sanofi has been hoovering up biotech firms, including the maker of a rare blood disease treatment, Ablynx, for €3.9bn and US biotech Bioverativ for $11.6bn (£8.1bn)
Knut Slatten, the vice president and lead analyst for Sanofi at Moody's, said:
The €1.9bn disposal of Zentiva is credit positive and will contribute to a lessening of Sanofi’s increased net debt burden following its acquisition of Bioverativ and Ablynx for more than €13 billion earlier in the year.
This week, Sanofi also sold some brands to Charterhouse Capital Partners' Cooper-Vemedia drugs manufacturng unit for €158m.
A sale of the unit has been on the cards since October, after Sanofi spent more than a year carving out the generics division into a stand-alone company.