Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis agreed to pay about $5.1 billion for the remaining publicly held shares it does not already own of vaccine maker Chiron, Emeryville, Calif. The deal is expected to close in the first part of 2006, pending regulatory approvals.
Novartis currently owns about 42.2% of Chiron. Novartis said the acquisition will give it an entry into the global vaccine market, which is expected to double in the next five years to more than $20 billion in sales annually from about $9.6 billion in 2004.
Last year United Kingdom regulators temporarily suspended the manufacturing license of Chiron's Liverpool manufacturing plant, nearly halving the expected U.S. supply of flu vaccine supply. Chiron, the world's fifth-largest vaccine maker with overall U.S. sales of $1.7 billion in 2004, offers more than 30 novel and conventional vaccines for adults and children.