AstraZeneca sells its dental arm for £1bn

ASTRAZENECA has sold its dental implants and medical devices unit for $1.8bn (£1.12bn) to US company Dentsply.

Dentsply, which beat off bids from rival medical technology groups and private equity firms, said yesterday the purchase of Astra Tech would increase its revenue by about 25 per cent and boost its earnings immediately. Shares in the company rose 2.8 per cent.

Swedish-based Astra Tech, which had revenue last year of $535m, is the world’s third-largest dental implants maker after Straumann and Nobel Biocare. It has a separate devices arm focused on urology and surgery.

Acquiring Astra Tech will strengthen Dentsply’s leading position in the global dental market.

For AstraZeneca, the disposal reinforces its role as a pure play pharmaceuticals company at a time when many rivals are diversifying.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said the auction process, run by JPMorgan, had attracted “a high degree of interest”.

The price, however, was somewhat short of the $2bn some analysts had been expecting.

The deal, expected to close in the second half, will not hit AstraZeneca’s core earnings in 2011.