Actis invests $48M in API maker Symbiotec

There have been a string of recent private equity deals in API and drug manufacturers as investors see an upside to the industry, despite the often bleak talk by Big Pharma. Now, the London-based private equity investor Actis Capital is shelling out $48 million for what it calls a "significant stake" in Indian API maker Symbiotec Pharmalab. Earlier reports said it was trying to buy 25% of the company.

According to Actis, Symbiotec is India's leading steroid-hormone active ingredient producer and the second largest player in Asia. It says it has more than 200 customers and its products are used to make drugs for treating inflammation, asthma, dermatology conditions, immune disease and infertility. The investor likes India because it is the global leader in FDA-approved API manufacturing and is inexpensive. Actis focuses on investments in emerging markets like Asia, Africa and Latin America.

"With its US FDA approved facilities and high quality products with Asian cost manufacturing advantages, it is on track to become a leading global player," JM Trivedi, partner and head of South Asia at Actis, said of Symbiotec.

There has been a fair amount of private equity investment in drug and API manufacturing in the last year. Earlier this month, citing sources, Reuters said that investment firm KKR was on the cusp of buying a 30% stake in India's Gland Pharma for about $150 million. Gland manufactures heparin and some other products. American Capital ($ACAS), which already controls heparin maker Scientific Protein Laboratories, last year agreed to pay $212 million to buy Germantown, WI-based API maker Cambridge Major Laboratories. This month, CML merged with CMC specialist AAIPharma Services, a Wilmington, NC-based company that is owned by Water Street Healthcare Partners. In January, Warburg Pincus paid $195 million to buy JHP Pharmaceuticals, the majority of which was owned by Morgan Stanley Principal Investments. JHP is a sterile injectable drug manufacturer in Parsippany, NJ.

- here's the announcement