Valeant looks to sell billions in assets to cut debt, stock soars

Tue Aug 9, 2016 4:29pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel and Caroline Humer

(Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.N: Quote) (VRX.TO: Quote) will sell billions of dollars of non-core assets and could accept offers for its main businesses, its chief executive said on Tuesday, as the drugmaker worked to restore investor trust after a year of bad news.

Valeant's U.S. shares rose more than 25 percent, touching a two-month high, after the company outlined its reorganization and sell-off plan, and also confirmed full-year forecasts. Even so, the stock is down nearly 90 percent from a year ago.

Last fall, political concerns about Valeant's sharp drug price increases and investor scrutiny of its dealings with pharmacy Philidor RX dragged down Valeant's shares. Congress and several U.S. government agencies also opened investigations and the company restated earnings earlier this year.

Since then, its largest investor and board member, activist Bill Ackman, has been leading a drive to try to stabilize the company. New Chief Executive Joe Papa joined in May, replacing longtime CEO Mike Pearson.

Papa announced a few small sales on Tuesday, and said Valeant was eyeing $8 billion worth of sales for non-core assets. He added in an interview that he may go further, after receiving unsolicited interest in core businesses as well.

Valeant's Bausch & Lomb eyecare, dermatology, Salix gastrointestinal and consumer over-the-counter businesses are core, Papa said. He would not say if Valeant received interest in Bausch.

"We have to think about any alternative in front of us as we look to improve shareholder value," Papa said in the interview. "We're going to take anything that we get, from an offer or unsolicited bid, very seriously."

The Laval, Quebec-based company still has $30.77 billion in long-term debt, a legacy of Pearson's strategy of expanding through serial mergers and acquisitions.   Continued...

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