Bausch + Lomb’s Saunders doesn’t expect more big deals in the near term

By Elissa Welle

(Reuters) -Eye care firm Bausch + Lomb does not expect to do another big deal for around a year after it completes its $1.75 billion deal for dry eye drug Xiidra, recently rehired chief executive Brent Saunders said on Wednesday.

Noted dealmaker Saunders has already announced two acquisitions since joining the company in March: the deal to buy Xiidra from Novartis in June and a $106.5 million deal for Johnson & Johnson’s eye and contact lens drops brand Blink.

“We need to close this one by the end of the year, we need to integrate it into the company and then we need to digest, de-lever from a balance sheet perspective,” Saunders said in an interview, adding that the company will look for smaller opportunities over that time frame.

Bausch + Lomb also posted modestly better than expected second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, reporting revenue of $1.04 billion in the quarter, up from $941 million a year ago. Analysts, on average, expected revenue of $963 million for the quarter, according to Refinitiv data.

Excluding one-time items, B+L said it earned $65 million, or 18 cents per share, down from $103 million or 29 cents per share last year, as the company’s expenses rose. Still, the earnings beat analysts’ expectations by 3 cents a share.

Saunders previously helmed and built up Botox maker Allergan before it was acquired by AbbVie for $63 billion in 2020.

This is his second stint at Bausch + Lomb, which makes contact lenses, surgical devices, prescription drugs and generic eye products. In 2013, Saunders oversaw B+L’s acquisition of Valeant Pharmaceutical, now Bausch Health Companies.

Bausch Health still owns most of B+L’s shares and has said it intends to fully spin the company off. Some Bausch Health investors are trying to block the spin-off.

“They have not put out a timeline for the remaining spin, but I’m confident that that will happen in due course,” Saunders said.

(Reporting by Elissa Welle in New YorkEditing by Michael Erman, Matthew Lewis and Conor Humphries)


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