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ICN Doubles Foreign Unit's Planned IPO

Pharmaceuticals: The firm will sell a 40% stake in the business instead of 20% as first stage of a promised restructuring plan.

March 09, 2001|MARC BALLON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., revising its plan to split its business into three separate publicly traded companies, said Thursday that it will sell 40% of its proposed ICN International to the public, twice the amount originally announced.

The Costa Mesa drug maker, under fire for not moving quickly enough on the restructuring plans, said it intends to sell the shares in the second quarter and hopes to have the stock listed on the Budapest Stock Exchange.

ICN said it was increasing the shares in the initial public offering to achieve greater liquidity.

Chairman and Chief Executive Milan Panic said ICN remains committed to completing its restructuring. "We expect to complete the first step in this process, the offering of ICN International, in the second quarter of 2001."

Analysts generally shrugged off the announcement.

Tom DesChamps, an analyst with Mehta Partners in New York, said he will remain skeptical of ICN's commitment to restructuring until he sees "some real progress taking place," including pricing the shares of ICN International and another unit, Ribapharm Inc. Ribapharm would own the rights to ICN's top-selling product, the hepatitis drug ribavirin.

First Union Securities analyst Michael Tong said the revisions "didn't look like much," adding he continues to rate the stock at market perform.

The company's stock closed Thursday at $25, down 75 cents on the New York Stock Exchange.

In recent weeks, two dissident shareholders have expressed concern about the pace of the restructuring.

David Batchelder of Relational Investors said he wanted to reclaim his position on the board.

In late January, Cayman Islands-based Special Situations Partners Inc. said ICN should consider scrapping the plans because of the delays and sell the company instead to the highest bidder.

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