Valeant CEO open to selling core assets if price is right

Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:46am EDT
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By Allison Lampert

LAVAL, Quebec (Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's (VRX.TO: Quote)(VRX.N: Quote) new chief executive officer left the door open to selling major assets on Tuesday as the company tries to reduce its massive debt load.

Joe Papa, who replaced former CEO Mike Pearson in May, said last week that Valeant would take offers for assets other than its key dermatology, consumer products, Bausch + Lomb eyecare and Salix gastrointestinal drug businesses.

But Papa told reporters in Laval, Quebec, after his first annual meeting with investors that Valeant might sell more if the price was right.

"If there is a significant offer, we would always have to assess any offer that comes in to us," he said.

Valeant has faced scrutiny over its acquisition binge of recent years, use of a specialty pharmacy and backlash over massive price increases for some drugs. Last week it cut its 2016 forecast.

Papa said he would avoid breaking Valeant up entirely: "I took this job to rebuild this company."

He said Valeant would pay off at least $1.7 billion of its $31 billion debt this year, with further payments depending on asset sales. Papa said he already had fielded inquiries for non-core assets and had several bankers working on potential sales.

While Papa was expected to face tough questions at the meeting held in the Montreal suburb of Laval, it lasted just 40 minutes, and some shareholders were cordial.   Continued...

A sign for the headquarters of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc is seen in Laval, Quebec June 14, 2016.   REUTERS/Christinne Muschi  - RTX2G72E