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Asahi Kasei to buy Swedish drugmaker Calliditas for $1.1 billion

The logo of Asahi Kasei Corporation is displayed at an entrance of the company's Tokyo headquarters in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) -Asahi Kasei offered to buy Swedish drugmaker Calliditas Therapeutics for around $1.1 billion on Tuesday as the Japanese maker company looks to turn itself into a global player in pharmaceuticals.

A maker of specialised chemicals, including those used in batteries, the firm is best known in Japan for its building materials, such as insulation used in housing. It has a pharma division but is not heavyweight in the industry.

A number of Japanese firms have been bulking up in healthcare. Drinks giant Kirin Holdings last year acquired Australian vitamin maker Blackmores Ltd in a $1.2 billion deal.

Olympus Corp, once best known for its cameras and voice recorders, has sold both of those businesses and is now a medical equipment maker known for endoscopes used in medical exams.


Asahi Kasei said it would offer about 11.8 billion Swedish crowns ($1.1 billion) for Stockholm-based Calliditas, in a deal approved by the boards of both companies. The offer of 208 crowns per share represents an 83% premium on Calliditas' closing price of 113.6 crowns on Monday.

Calliditas focuses on orphan diseases and patients with unmet medical needs. In recommending that shareholders accept the tender offer, the Calliditas board said in a statement that the company stands to "realise the benefits of being part of a larger platform".

Asahi Kasei said it wants to expand its healthcare operations globally in the fields of immunology, transplantation and related diseases.

Japanese companies have been looking for growth outside their home market and in areas such as healthcare to offset declining revenue at home as the population ages and shrinks in the world's fourth largest economy.

($1 = 10.5681 Swedish crowns)

($1 = 156.9000 yen)

(Reporting by Rocky Swift and David Dolan; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jason Neely)