Healthcare company Novartis has entered into an agreement to sell its influenza vaccines unit for $275 million.

The business, including the related development pipeline, will be purchased by Australia-based CSL Limited and will be combined with CSL's subsidiary bioCSL.

According to CSL, this will create the number two global player in the $4 billion global influenza vaccine industry, with manufacturing plants in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, a diversified product portfolio and strong pre-pandemic and pandemic franchises in its major centres of operation.

Annual sales of the combined business are expected to grow to almost $1 billion over the next three to five years.

CSL's managing director and CEO Paul Perreault commented: "The Novartis influenza vaccine business provides bioCSL with a global leadership position in an attractive sector we understand intimately. It will transform bioCSL by giving it first-class facilities and global scale as well as product and geographic diversity."

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez added: "In CSL, we have found not only an owner for the influenza business that shares our commitment to protecting public health, but also a strong growth platform for the business and our associates."

The transaction currently remains subject to regulatory clearance but is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.

Until then, Novartis said that it remains fully committed to the influenza business, including honoring agreements with customers, research and development for influenza vaccines and product launches.