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ICN May Buy the Rest of Its Yugoslavian Unit

October 22, 1998| Bloomberg News

Costa Mesa-based ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., Eastern Europe's largest drug maker, said it might acquire the 25% of its Yugoslavian unit that it doesn't already own as the Belgrade government seeks to repay millions of dollars in outstanding debt. Earlier this year, ICN said the Yugoslav government defaulted on $39 million in notes payable for drugs and supplies sold to state medical institutions. The company said it would take a $172-million charge to cover the Yugoslav defaults. This week, the government took control of a 25% stake in ICN that it had given to an employee-controlled group in 1991, when ICN bought the remaining 75% of the Yugoslav drug maker. "The move could lead to a favorable resolution of the Yugoslavian government's outstanding debt with ICN, with the government offering its ownership interest as part of a settlement," ICN spokesman Terry Souers said. He said it's too early to discuss the terms of such an agreement. ICN Yugoslavia, which accounts for about one-third of the parent company's overall sales, plans to fire 1,200 of its 3,500 workers next year. ICN shares rose $1.25 to close at $19.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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