LEVERKUSEN (dpa-AFX) - Warner Chilcott plc (WCRX) said Monday that it is exploring a broad range of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, including a potential sale of the company. Shares of the company are gaining more than 17 percent following the news.
The Dublin, Ireland-based specialty pharmaceutical company said it is holding preliminary talks with potential suitors and has retained Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) as its advisor.
Warner Chilcott said it does not intend to disclose further developments regarding the process unless its board has approved a specific course of action, or it otherwise deems further disclosure is appropriate. The company specializes in women's health care, dermatology, urology and gastroenterology.
Bloomberg had reported earlier in the day that Warner Chilcott is weighing options, including a possible sale, after receiving interest from strategic and private-equity buyers. According to the report, the company is also considering paying a dividend as an alternative to a sale.
Media reports last week indicated that Warner Chilcott could likely be the target of a takeover from German conglomerate Bayer AG's (BAYRY.PK, BAYZF.PK) healthcare division.
Warner Chilcott was taken private in 2005 by a buyout group including Thomas Lee Partners LP, Bain Capital LLC, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG. The company went public again in 2006.
Warner Chilcott acquired Procter & Gamble's branded pharmaceutical business for $3.1 billion in October 2009.
However, of late, the company has been grappling with declining sales of its osteoporosis drug Actonel and increased generic competition in the U.S.
In late February, Warner Chilcott reported a profit for the fourth quarter that surged to $90.26 million or $0.36 per share from $15.45 million or $0.06 per share in the prior-year quarter, reflecting lower costs and expenses.
But revenues for the quarter declined 7 percent from the year-ago period to $645.82 million, mainly due to the loss of exclusivity for Actonel in Western Europe and a drop in the drug's sales in the U.S.
As of Monday, the company has a market capitalization of more than $5.5 billion.
In Monday's regular session, WCRX is trading at $22.02, up $3.23 or 17.19 percent on a volume of 6.71 million shares.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX