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Aspen to purchase anaesthetics from AstraZeneca for US$520m

[JOHANNESBURG] Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd said it would buy an anaesthetics portfolio from AstraZeneca Plc of the UK for at least US$520 million, 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 US$250 million in additional sales-based instalments 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 $592 million a year.

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 US$3.4 billion in funding, attracting support from 27 banks. The company has spent more than US$2 billion on acquisitions from drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Merck & Co in recent years to boost its portfolio of medicines and manufacturing sites, and now sells drugs in more than 150 countries.

Aspen shares have gained 3.7 per cent this year to 320.94 rand, valuing the business at US$9.9 billion. The drugmaker is South Africa's seventh-largest company by market capitalisation.