| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Novartis AG (NOVN.S) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (4502.T) have expressed interest in a buyout of the controlling stake that two families have in Brazilian drugmaker Hypermarcas SA (HYPE3.SA), two people with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.
The owners of investment vehicles Igarapava Participações SA and Maiorem SA de CV, which hold a combined 34 percent of Hypermarcas, hired Banco Bradesco SA (BBDC4.SA) and Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S) to advise them on options for their stakes, including a sale, said the people.
According to one of the people, who requested anonymity because the matter is private, the purchase of the stakes that Brazilian billionaire João Alves Queiroz Filho and the Mexican family that own Igarapava and Maiorem, respectively, would automatically trigger a buyout of minority shareholders.
Shares of Hypermarcas closed 3.8 percent up at 30.35 reais on Monday, on optimism that a deal could boost the company's $6 billion market value. The stock had extended gains after the Reuters report, rising more than 7 percent to an all-time high of 31.38 reais.
None of the potential bidders have yet delivered formal, binding proposals, one of the people said, noting that there is no certainty a deal will be struck.
In a securities filing, Hypermarcas was informed by the investors in those vehicles about "the inexistence of any attempts to sell their stakes in the company." The banks and Takeda did not immediately have a comment.
J&J and Novartis declined to comment on market speculation.
Interest in Hypermarcas from foreign pharmaceutical behemoths comes after Brazil's largest listed drug producer spent the past two years focusing on over-the-counter medicines. Hypermarcas raised some $1.5 billion from the sale of personal care brands to Coty Inc (COTY.N), Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB.L) and Ontex Group NV (ONTEX.BR).
O Globo columnist Lauro Jardim reported on Sunday, without citing how he obtained the information, that billionaire tycoon Queiroz and his family were discussing a potential sale of their stakes with a number of unidentified foreign companies.
(Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski in São Paulo; Editing by Sandra Maler and James Dalgleish)