Aspen to buy AstraZeneca anaesthetics for R7.7bn

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Johannesburg - Aspen Pharmacare [JSE:APN] said it would buy an anaesthetics portfolio from AstraZeneca of the UK for at least R7.7bn, the first acquisition by Africa’s largest generic-drugs maker since securing new funding.

The South African company will also pay AstraZeneca royalties and as much as R3.7bn in additional sales-based installments over the next two years, Durban-based Aspen said in a statement on Thursday.

It will gain seven established medicines sold in more than 100 countries that generate revenue of R8.7bn a year.

Aspen shares gained 4.4% to R335.01 by 9:08 in Johannesburg, on track for their biggest gain in almost four months. The stock is up 8.3% this year, valuing the business at R153bn. The drugmaker is South Africa’s seventh-largest company by market capitalisation.

The company “has identified anaesthetics as a therapeutic category that presents the opportunity to add significant value,” Aspen said.

“The key territories in which the portfolio is sold represent an excellent fit with Aspen’s existing operational geographic footprint.”

The deal comes a day after Aspen said it had secured R50.4bn in funding, attracting support from 27 banks. The company has spent more than R29.6bn on acquisitions from drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co in recent years to boost its portfolio of medicines and manufacturing sites, and now sells drugs in more than 150 countries.

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