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Novartis selling diagnostics unit to Grifols SA

GENEVA — The pharmaceutical company Novartis said Monday that it is selling part of its diagnostics business to the Spanish company Grifols for $1.68 billion.

The company, based in Basel, Switzerland, said the deal with Grifols SA, which is based in Barcelona and is the world’s third-largest producer of plasma-derived therapies, requires regulatory approvals but is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014.

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Joseph Jimenez, chief executive of Novartis, said in a statement that the sale of the company’s blood transfusion diagnostics unit ‘‘enables us to focus more sharply on our strategic businesses while providing Grifols with a platform for global expansion.’’

Novartis AG said the unit, which it acquired in 2006 as part of Chiron, an Emeryville, Calif., biotech company, had sales of $565 million in 2012.

Novartis has its global research headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

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