BY Richard Summerfield
Abbott Laboratories has announced plans to divest its ophthalmic unit, Abbott Medical Optics, to Johnson & Johnson in an all cash deal worth $4.325bn.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, the companies confirmed in a statement.
“We've been actively and strategically shaping our portfolio, which has recently focused on developing leadership positions in cardiovascular devices and expanding diagnostics," said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive of Abbott. "Our vision care business will be well-positioned for continued success and advancement with Johnson & Johnson, and I'd like to thank our employees for building a successful business."
Abbott Medical Optics produces lasers and other equipment used for cataract surgeries and laser vision correction procedures, and also makes eye drops and cleaners for contact lenses. The division posted sales of $1.1bn last year.
The acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics will provide a significant boost to Johnson & Johnson’s cataract business. At present the company is the number two global business in cataract surgeries. As a result of the deal, Johnson & Johnson will boast an $8bn global market which, according to data from the company, is growing at a rate of 5 percent a year.
"Eye health is one of the largest, fastest growing and most underserved segments in health care today," said Ashley McEvoy, company group chairman responsible for Johnson & Johnson's Vision Care Companies. "With the acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics' strong and differentiated surgical ophthalmic portfolio, coupled with our world-leading ACUVUE contact lens business, we will become a more broad-based leader in vision care. Importantly, with this acquisition we will enter cataract surgery – one of the most commonly performed surgeries and the number one cause of preventable blindness."
Abbott acquired the unit in 2009 for around $2.8bn when it was known as Advanced Medical Optics. However, Abbott moved to divest the business after deciding to refocus on heart devices and expanding diagnostics.