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Exclusive: Sanofi explores $7 billion-plus drug divestiture - sources

By Sophie Sassard, Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sanofi SA is looking to sell a portfolio of mature drugs that could fetch between $7 billion and $8 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, yet another example of drugmakers trying to shed non-core assets and focus on high-growth areas.

The French pharmaceutical company is working with Evercore Partners Inc and has contacted potential buyers in the past few months, the people said on Tuesday, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

The drugs for sale include treatments for high blood pressure and cardio-metabolic diseases and have roughly $3.7 billion in combined annual revenue, one of the people said. The portfolio could fetch up to two times that amount, the person added.

Generic drugmakers and specialty pharmaceutical companies are seen as logical buyers for the Sanofi drug portfolio, said the people familiar with the matter.

Sanofi could not be immediately reached for comment, while Evercore declined to comment.

Drug companies are increasingly looking to shed smaller divisions they view as non-core so they can better focus on their mainstay products. They have also shown willingness to consider large asset swaps with rivals to exit weaker businesses and reinforce core areas where they are already top players.

Novarits AG last week announced a major revamp in which it swapped $20 billion worth of assets with GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd and agreed to sell its animal health arm to Eli Lilly and Co.

Merck & Co Inc is also in the final stages of selling its consumer health unit for close to $14 billion, Reuters reported last week, as its market share in the sector is seen as sub-scale compared with those of market leaders such as Johnson & Johnson.

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard in London, Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bernard Orr)

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