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Nestle buys US firm Prometheus Laboratories as part of food pharma drive

25/5/11 economictimes.indiatimes.com

ZURICH: Nestle, the world’s biggest food group, has agreed to buy US gastrointestinal diagnostics firm Prometheus Laboratories for an undisclosed sum as part of its drive into foods with health benefits.

Nestle said in a statement that Prometheus, which is expected to have annualised 2012 sales of around $250 million, focuses on conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Luis Cantarell, head of the health science unit created at the beginning of the year, said the acquisition would help Nestle accelerate its current and future healthcare business.

“It will enable new personalised healthcare solutions based on diagnostics, pharma and nutrition,” he said in a statement.

While Nestle declined to give financial details, Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy estimated Nestle might have paid more than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.13 billion) for the firm.

“The combined entity will be able to leverage the products and geographic presence in gastrointestinal diagnostics. We see that acquisition as a decisive step for Nestle,” he said.

The Vevey-based maker of Nescafe coffee, KitKat chocolate bars and Maggi soup has said it plans to invest about 500 million Swiss francs into the new health science division over the next decade.

In February, it bought UK-based CM&D Pharma Ltd., which makes a chewing gum to help people suffering from kidney disease as well as other products for patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer.

Nestle shares were up 0.4 percent at 54.70 francs at 0732 GMT, compared to a near flat European food and beverage index.

 

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