AstraZeneca planning China business spin off -FT

(Reuters) – Drugmaker AstraZeneca is drafting a plan to spin off its China business, and listing a separate unit in Hong Kong is being viewed as an option, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

A separation might not ultimately take place, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter, with one of them saying listing the entity in Shanghai was also possible.

The company would seek to be a patriotic company in China that “loves the Communist Party”, its China president said in May. Last year, the country accounted for 13% of AstraZeneca’s total sales, and the company is China’s biggest drugmaker.

The spin off could protect AstraZeneca from tensions between China and other global powers, while the company retained control of the business, the FT’s report said.

It added the idea has been around for years but was recently sidelined by a global biotech downturn.

AstraZeneca said it did not comment on “rumours or speculations around future strategy or M&A.”

(Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft)