Eastman Kodak Co. said Wednesday that it will link up its pharmaceutical unit with France’s Sanofi SA, in a deal that would create one of the world’s top 20 drug companies.
Sanofi and Sterling Drug, a unit of Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak, will set up three joint ventures, opening the huge U.S. market to the French company and strengthening Sterling’s presence in Europe.
“Our great handicap is we are not present on the American market,” Sanofi President Jean-Francois Dehe said.
Sanofi is known for its stroke and heart attack drug Ticlid, marketed by Syntex Corp., which was recently approved for limited use in the United States.
In 1989, Sanofi made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. pharmaceutical company A. H. Robins Co. and was also interested in Rorer Inc., which last year sold a 68% stake to the European drug giant Rhone-Poulenc SA.
Sanofi, 60% owned by state-controlled oil company Elf Aquitaine, is the world’s 35th largest drug maker.
Sterling is the world’s 37th-largest pharmaceuticals group but the seventh biggest in over-the-counter drugs.
Under the agreement, involving no cash, the companies will create two joint ventures combining their prescription drug operations, with total annual revenues of $2.3 billion.
A third joint venture, under Sterling’s control and called Sterling Health, will group Sanofi and Sterling nonprescription drug operations on a country-by-country basis in Europe.
The new groups will not interfere with existing licensing agreements that Sanofi has with U.S. companies.