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Australia-based CSL has signed an agreement to acquire the global influenza vaccine business from Swiss drug-maker Novartis, for $275m.

CSL will include the acquired business in its subsidiary bioCSL.

CSL CEO Paul Perreault said: "The Novartis influenza vaccine business provides bioCSL with a global leadership position in an attractive sector we understand intimately.

"It will transform bioCSL by giving it first class facilities and global scale as well as product and geographic diversity."

With manufacturing facilities in the US, UK, Germany and Australia, the combined influenza business is said to become the second largest company in the $4bn global influenza vaccine industry.

According to CSL, the combined business is expected to report $1bn sales per annum in the coming three to five years.

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said: "In CSL, we have found not only an owner for the influenza business that shares our commitment to protecting public health, but also a strong growth platform for the business and our associates."

Subject to regulatory approval, the transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.

Novartis will operate the influenza vaccines business until the transaction with CSL is completed. It will be reported with the non-influenza business, which is divested to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

"According to CSL, the combined business is expected to report $1bn sales per annum in the coming three to five years."

In April, Novartis signed an agreement with GSK to exchange certain assets in key segments.

As part of the deal, Novartis agreed to acquire GSK oncology products, and to divest its vaccines, excluding influenza to GSK.

The transaction with GSK is expected to be completed in the first half of 2015.

Both companies agreed to establish a joint venture by combining their consumer divisions, in a bid to expand healthcare business.

Image: Novartis AG headquarters in Basel. Photo: courtesy of Andrew Hecht.