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by Brendon Nafziger , DOTmed News Associate Editor
New York private equity firm SK Capital Partners bought a controlling stake in Ion Beam Applications S.A.'s radiopharmaceutical division, which is being spun off into its own company, IBA announced Monday. Under the terms of the new deal, SK Capital will own 60 percent of the new business, called IBA Molecular Imaging, and IBA will retain a 40 percent stake.

The transaction, expected to close in the second quarter, is valued at 180 million euros ($229 million). IBA said it expects to net 100 million euros ($127 million) from the deal after debt adjustments, although the sale will result in "significant exceptional loss" for 2011 accounts as the transaction "does not value the IBA radiopharmaceutical business at the level previously booked in its consolidated statements," the company said in a statement.

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IBA's stock shot up to a six-month high after the announcement, Reuters reports, rising more than 31 percent and hitting 6.31 euros per share in trading Monday.

Although IBA owns 40 percent of the new company, it will reap 60 percent of the profits for drugs currently under development, in recognition of its past R&D investments, the Belgian company said. In the pipeline are imaging tracers to help diagnose kidney disease and Alzheimer's disease. The development costs of the in-the-works drugs now would be shared equally, the companies said.

Renaud Dehareng, the radiopharmaceutical group's former president, will helm the new entity as CEO, IBA said.

IBA's molecular imaging group employs 1,000 people, has 57 nuclear medicine sites in Europe, the United States and Asia, and runs a manufacturing facility in France. It generates about 175 million euros ($222 million) in yearly revenues, IBA said.

In a separate announcement, IBA said Olivier Legrain, the current chief strategic officer, would be promoted to chief operating officer in preparation for when he takes the reins from CEO Pierre Mottet, who's stepping down in May. However, Mottet will continue with the company as vice-chairman of the board.

IBA, which also makes cyclotrons for proton therapy treatments, is headquartered in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

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