ImageQuick on the heels of a setback to divest its hospital chain to Apollo Hospitals, troubled Indian drugmaker, Wockhardt Ltd, which has debt of Rs3, 400 crore as on 31 December 2008, has succeeded in selling its German unit Esparma to Mova Pharma, the company announced yesterday.

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, the country's largest hospital chain, dropped its plans this week to acquire Wockhardt Hospitals due to differences over valuation.

Wockhardt has not disclosed the size of the Esparma deal, which is expected to be in the range of Rs120 to Rs125 crore. Mova GmbH, is a subsidiary of Lindopharm GmbH.

Wockhardt had acquired the Esparma business in May 2004 around Rs49 crore.

''Wockhardt continues to be on the growth track and this initiative is the first step towards its on-going strategy to re-structure, rationalise and optimise all of its businesses and raise fresh capital by divesting some of its smaller operations and non-core businesses,'' the company said

Wockhardt is still on the lookout for buyers for its Irish facility Pinewood and its French subsidiary Negma.

The company intends to sell its animal health care business and is awaiting shareholder approval for a Rs1.5-billion deal. The move will help the company focus on its core businesses. According to media reports Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis and French firm Ventoquinol are in the process of concluding due diligence for the division 

The Mumbai-based pharma company is in dire straits after its aggressive expansion on the past few years.  Some of its debts are due this year.

Europe is Wockhardt's single largest market, accounting for 54 per cent of its consolidated sales.

The company's shares touched an intraday high of Rs136.50 and an intraday low of Rs131.55 today. At 11:07 am, the share was quoting at Rs135.40, up Rs5.35, or 4.11 per cent on the BSE.

Its shares closed down 8.23 per cent or Rs11.70 at Rs130.15 on Wednesday on the BSE.