Chemical Giant Asahi Kasei to Buy Zoll

CEO of Asahi Kasei says U.S. leads world in medical device business both in size and technological innovation, so establishing a strong infrastructure in the U.S. is an important step for his company.

Japanese company Asahi Kasei said on March 12 that it will buy U.S.-based health care firm Zoll Medical for $2.21 billion in a friendly takeover.

The purchase underscores increasing moves by Japanese firms to tap overseas markets, a trend helped by the yen's recent strength which makes such acquisitions cheaper.

Asahi Kasei will offer $93 per share to Zoll shareholders, a 23.8% premium over company's closing price on March 9.

Taketsugu Fujiwara, CEO of Asahi Kasei said the acquisition of Zoll, a major producer of emergency resuscitation equipment, would boost Asahi's growth prospects.

Asahi Kasei, a chemical and fiber producer, also specializes in health care and housing products.

"In the medical devices business, the U.S. market leads the world, not only in size and scope, but also in technological innovation, so establishing a strong infrastructure in the U.S. is an important step for Asahi Kasei," Fujiwara said.

"This transaction will allow us to build on Zoll's strong U.S. business position and its technology leadership, with Zoll forming the cornerstone of our critical care business," he added.

Zoll will become a wholly owned subsidiary within the Asahi Kasei Group, which said it plans to keep the U.S. firm's management and its current business lines intact.

"We expect all parts of Zoll to continue to thrive as part of Asahi Kasei," said Zoll's Chief Executive Richard Packer.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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