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CSL to buy Aventis plasma unit

Aventis is selling its Behring unit to CSL for up to $925 million.
Aventis is selling its Behring unit to CSL for up to $925 million.

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(CNN) -- Australian blood products group CSL Ltd. is to buy the plasma therapeutics business of France-based Aventis for up to $925 million.

The deal will create the world's No. 2 plasma products maker behind Baxter International.

Melbourne-based CSL said Tuesday it had signed an agreement with Aventis to buy its Aventis Behring business, which is based in the United States and has 15 percent of the world market for plasma therapeutics.

The purchase price is made up of an up-front payment of $550 million, deferred payments in 2006 and 2007 totaling $125 million, and a contingent payment of up to $250 million, depending on the CSL share price four years after completion.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2004.

CSL managing director Brian McNamee said the acquisition is being funded from a mix of equity and debt, including Aust. $520 million ($380 million) in equity via a placement to institutions and a share purchase plan.

He said it would give CSL a "global footprint", with operations in Europe, the United States, Japan and other markets.

CSL will combine Behring with its ZLB Bioplasma unit to create a new business known as ZLB Behring.

"The acquisition creates a world-leading plasma therapeutics business by combining ZLB's outstanding IVIG business, plasma fractionation and production with Aventis Behring's leading coagulation products, haemophilia expertise and specialty products market reach," McNamee said in a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange.

IVIG is intravenous immunogloblin, which is one of CSL's main products, along with albumin. Businesses in the CSL group cover human health, animal health, biosciences and plasma services.

CSL shares closed at A$16.50 Monday and were halted Tuesday ahead of the announcement. They are down almost 24 percent so far this year and have fallen almost 70 percent since hitting a record high of $52.00 in January 2002.

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