Avista, Nordic Win Conditional OK For ConvaTec

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Buyout firms Nordic Capital and Avista Capital Partners won conditional approval from the European Commission to buy the ConvaTec wound and ostomy care business of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for $4.1 billion.

“The Commission’s decision is conditional upon the commitment by Nordic Capital to divest its entire wound care business as well as its ophthalmic needles business,” the European Union executive said in a statement on July 16. The commission said the divestiture solved a competition problem arising from the fact that both companies made advanced wound care products, especially alginates, which are moist-absorbing and made from seaweed.

ConvaTec has been a well-performing unit with global sales rising 14 percent to $290 million in the first quarter. The $4.1 billion acquisition would be the largest financial sponsor deal since the credit crunch slowed the market in summer 2007.

Bristol-Myers has said its focus going forward would be on pharmaceuticals and developing biotechnology medicines, which have higher profit margins than businesses such as wound care.

This deal would be the second Bristol Meyers carve-out for Avista Capital. In December, the New York-based firm agreed to buy Bristol Meyers’s medical imaging division for $525 million.

(Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Dale Hudson)