Aspen to buy Merck API plant in Netherlands to feed expansion

South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare has more expansion plans in sight. It is negotiating to buy an API manufacturing plant in the Netherlands from Merck's MSD unit in Europe to feed its own moves into other parts of the world.

Both companies put out announcements with only sketchy information; no price or timetable was given. Merck ($MRK) said it was negotiating to sell a plant in "Oss and related businesses" to Aspen. The plan is for the plant in Oss to continue production and for the workforce there to become Aspen employees, Merck said. It mentioned that when the specifics are worked out, the company would talk things over with the Oss Works Council and Trade Union. 

Aspen, which is owned in part by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), is picking up product lines to expand in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, Bloomberg reports.

In August, it was reported that Aspen and Indian generics specialist Cipla were working together on an Australian expansion. That came after Aspen nailed down two key Australian deals. It bought Sigma Pharmaceuticals' generic drugs business in late 2010 for $800 million, becoming Australia's largest manufacturer of prescription drugs in the process. Last year, the South African drugmaker agreed to buy the rights to 25 GSK products no longer promoted in Australia. They include such common treatments as herpes fighter Valtrex and antibiotic Amoxil. Price: $268 million. GSK owns nearly a 20% stake in Aspen.  

- here's the Aspen release
- see the MSD announcement
- read the Bloomberg story