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Valeant CEO will listen if there's 'inbound interest' in core businesses

Chairman and CEO Joseph Papa told CNBC on Thursday he would "have to listen at this time" if there is "inbound interest" in some of Valeant Pharmaceuticals' core businesses.

Shares of the embattled pharmaceuticals company fell as much as 7.9 percent Thursday after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal weight from overweight. In a note, the firm said it was incorrect in its August thesis that the debt-ridden company's business would stabilize and asset sales would enhance value. Papa said in an exclusive interview on CNBC's "Closing Bell" that he would consider selling some of Valeant's core businesses and assets, against the wishes of some of the company's major shareholders.

"We, as you know, have some significant amount of debt — we have $30 billion of debt. I always said that we're going to build around this core," he said. "If, though, there is inbound interest that comes to us and says, 'We'd be very interested in some of these great assets you have,' I have to listen at this time."

Papa described Valeant's "core" businesses as: dermatology, the gastrointestinal business, the eye health Bausch & Lomb business and the consumer business. His view on potentially selling Valeant's core businesses has sometimes, however, been at odds with some of his major shareholders.

One of the company's largest shareholders, John Paulson, was against a proposed Salix transaction in November. At the time, Valeant shares spiked as much as 36 percent after the company said it was discussing selling its gastrointestinal drug, Salix, to Takeda Pharmaceuticals. In a statement last month, Valeant said it was discussing "various divestitures, including, but not limited to, Salix" with third parties.

Outspoken shareholder Bill Ackman also had said earlier in the year that Valeant has no plans to sell its core assets like its eye health Bausch & Lomb segment. Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management has a 7.8 percent stake in the pharmaceutical company. Ackman has said in the past that he regrets his initial investment in the company, which is down more than 85 percent year to date.

Another factor that's affected pharmaceutical stocks has been the expected amount of drug price regulation from the government. Since the election, specialty pharmaceutical companies Valeant, Teva and Allergan have all fallen. Mylan is up 2 percent, however.

Looking ahead to next year, Papa said he has recently been focused on assembling a team to move the company forward. He noted that Valeant has a psoriasis drug at the FDA currently awaiting approval, and he hopes to move that into the market soon.

CNBC's Christine Wang contributed to this report.