Aspen buys Merck MSD plant for US$1bn

Agrees to buy an active pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in The Netherlands and satellite operation in the US

Generics manufacturer Aspen Pharmacare has agreed to buy a manufacturing plant from Merck of the US as part of a US$1bn (R10 billion) deal, as the South African group expands its global footprint.

As part of the deal, Aspen will take over an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing plant in The Netherlands, as well as a satellite facility and sales office in the US.

The Merck business had sales of €284m in 2012.

Aspen also has an option to acquire 11 branded finished dosage form products from MSD, covering diverse therapeutic areas.

Last week, Aspen said it was in talks with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to acquire its Fraxiparine and Arixtra thrombosis drugs, as well as a manufacturing plant for an undisclosed sum.

This transaction enables Aspen to access a niche range of APIs and finished dosage products

The Merck plant manufactures heparin, the ingredient used in the manufacture of the drugs that Aspen hopes to buy from GSK.

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive, said ‘One of Aspen’s primary strategic intents is to further globalise its business, increase its representation across a number of additional territories and provide support to its growing global presence with a differentiated pipeline.

‘This transaction provides a platform to contribute to the achievement of this strategic intent by enabling Aspen to access a niche range of APIs and finished dosage products.’

Aspen currently has 17 manufacturing facilities at 12 sites in several countries including Australia, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela.

The manufacturing facility in The Netherlands, currently known as Dutch New Company (Dutch Newco) will be acquired for approximately €36m and its name will be changed to Aspen Osso after completion.

Dutch Newco will at the same time acquire inventory with an expected value of approximately €300m.

Aspen has the option to acquire the finished dosage form products for US$600 million.

The completion of the API business acquisition is expected to be 1 October, with the products deal being finalised by 31 December.

Merck will continue to acquire APIs from Aspen under a 10-year supply contract which will ‘provide significant on-going volumes for the API business,’ said Aspen.

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