France's Sanofi buys Indian health products line

24th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

French drug giant Sanofi said Wednesday it was buying the health product business of Mumbai-based Universal Medicare as it seeks a presence in India's booming over-the-counter market.

The purchase is the latest by global drug companies of over-the-counter Indian products as they push into the health and personal care field in the country of 1.2 billion people.

Under the deal, Sanofi's majority-held subsidiary Aventis Pharma Ltd said it was buying Universal Medicare Private Ltds marketing and distribution business of more than 40 branded nutrition products in India.

"India is one of our most important markets in the emerging world," Antoine Ortoli, a Sanofi senior vice president, said in a joint company statement.

The companies would give no value for the sale but Indian media reports have said it was worth around 4.5 billion rupees ($100 million).

The Universal Medicare business includes products to treat arthritis, along with vitamins and mineral supplements, anti-arthritic drugs and liver tonics.

Among its most popular products is a range of cod liver oil capsules.

"This acquisition reinforces our commitment to invest and grow our presence in India through a diversified portfolio," Sanofi's Ortoli said.

India's market for over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements has grown by leaps and bounds as a burgeoning and increasingly health-conscious middle-class reaps the benefits of rapid economic growth.

The purchase will allow Sanofi to "reach out to large sections" of Indias population through a broad offering of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and nutrition products, the company said.

The deal drove up Aventis' shares by nearly seven percent to 2,175.00 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange in afternoon trade against an overall weaker market.

Universal Medicare is privately held and does not trade on the Bombay exchange.

Annual revenues of the business acquired from Universal Medicare by Sanofi total around 1.1 billion rupees.

The deal, already given board approval by both companies, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Under the transaction, 750 employees of Universal Medicare will shift to Aventis.

Late last year, British consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser bought India's Paras Pharmaceuticals, which sells cold and moisturising remedies among other products, for more than $720 million.

© 2011 AFP

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