Eastman Kodak Co. said Thursday that France's Sanofi has agreed to pay more than $1.68 billion to acquire the prescription pharmaceutical business of Kodak's Sterling Winthrop subsidiary.
Sanofi, Kodak's partner in the unit, was named as a potential buyer when the photographic giant said in May that it planned to sell the business.
The unit includes Sterling Winthrop's stake in the Sanofi Winthrop global pharmaceutical alliance. Sanofi is the drug, cosmetic and perfume subsidiary of French oil group Elf Aquitaine.
It will boost Sanofi's size and presence in the United States and its ability to invest in research.
"It really establishes Sanofi as a worldwide force," particularly in research, said Samuel Isaly, a partner in Mehta & Isaly, a New York research and consulting firm.
"Given any luck in research, they will emerge into something powerful," he said. "The transaction is fully aimed at what is happening 10 years from now."
With the Sterling Winthrop prescription business, Sanofi will become the 20th-largest drug company in the world, with sales of more than $3.2 billion and a research budget of about $500 million. Its U.S. sales should rise from $500 million to $900 million.
As part of the deal, Sanofi will give Kodak back the minority stake the French firm holds in Sterling Health Europe.