French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has decided to sell its 49% stake held in a Indian joint venture (Chiron Behring Vaccines Pvt Ltd) with Swiss drug-maker Novartis and held through Aventis Pharma for $22.39 million or approximately Rs 101.1 crore.

The deal is expected to close before December 31. Aventis Pharma’s share price rose as much as 7.8% soon after the announcement in intra day trade but closed the day down 1%.

Chiron Behring Vaccines Pvt Ltd has a plant located at Ankleshwar in Gujarat that makes anti rabies vaccine Rabipur. Rabipur is the largest selling vaccine for dog bite in the country with an estimated market share of around 55-60%.

Industry reports suggests that with death of around 20,000 people every year due to dog bite, India is one of the most lucrative markets for anti-rabies vaccines. Besides Chiron Behring Vaccines, other dominant players  in the market include Aventis (product name Verorab) followed by Zydus Cadila. Other smaller players include Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India, Wockhardt and Ranbaxy.

Aventis and Novartis have been locked in dispute over the recent past and the marketing rights for the product being churned out by the venture was awarded to Novartis in February’09. Till then the marketing rights was held by Aventis.

There was also a dispute related to Novartis’ objection of its partner selling its own competing product that hurt sales of Rabipur. Reportedly, the dispute had also led to shortage of anti rabies vaccines in the over Rs 100 crore market.

As per the announcement on Monday, after the deal is closed, all the pending disputes and legal proceedings between Aventis Pharma and Novartis would be withdrawn unconditionally. The statement added that as per the agreement, Aventis would continue to provide certain utilities and services at the Ankleshwar plant for a period of three years on mutually agreed terms.

Leave Your Comment(s)