Takeda is expected to put Wako Pure Chemical Industries on the chopping block as early as August, possibly prompting a bidding war among Fujifilm and other suitors. The unit, in which Takeda has a roughly 70% stake, could fetch as much as 100 billion yen ($941 million).
Among those interested in the business are Britain's Permira and other equity funds, as well as a major U.S. medical supplies company.
Fujifilm has set a goal of generating 1 trillion yen in sales from its medical business in the fiscal year ending March 2019, more than double the amount from fiscal 2015. Acquisitions will be essential to achieving that target. In March, Canon beat out Fujifilm in bidding for Toshiba medical device subsidiary Toshiba Medical Systems.
Wako, an unlisted company, reaps annual sales of about 80 billion yen and is Japan's top manufacturer of diagnostic reagents used in drug development. Fujifilm, which is already Wako's second-biggest shareholder with a stake just under 10%, is currently fortifying its pharmaceutical segment, developing treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. Not only will the addition of Wako's technology boost drug development capacity, the acquisition is also expected to form synergies with operations that utilize regenerative medical technology.
Meanwhile, Takeda is looking to shed noncore businesses and focus resources on developing branded drugs for cancer and digestive diseases. Having sold a separate industrial chemical subsidiary to Osaka Gas in 2015, Takeda will effectively withdraw from the chemicals business by offloading Wako.