Cipla buys capacity in Yemen with deal to control company there

India-based Cipla has been expanding its manufacturing footprint outside of its base in India and has now made the jump across the Arabian Sea to Yemen.

Cipla announced Monday that it has an agreement to buy a 51% stake in a pharmaceuticals manufacturing and distribution business there. It said it will pay $21 million for the stake and make milestone payments over the next three years if sales goals are hit.

Cipla spokesperson Jaisingh Krishnan said in an email Monday that the company was not identifying the target or providing many details. Krishnan said the drugmaker has "one manufacturing facility which will be commissioned shortly," and will manufacture tablets and capsules. Cipla itself is already selling in Yemen with more than 200 products approved there. It said that given its recent preference to manufacture products locally, this deal secures its place in a rapidly-growing market.

Drugmakers are building up partnerships and infrastructure in the region as they look for markets with more growth potential than they currently are realizing. Saudi Arabia, which sits just to the north of Yemen, has attracted a number of players. Boehringer Ingelheim in May struck a deal with two Saudi companies, Cigalah and Tabuk, which will manage and handle secondary packaging projects for 26 Boehringer Ingelheim products. AbbVie ($ABBV) also announced it would partner with the Arab Company for Pharmaceutical Products (Arabio) to manufacture Humira, the world's best-selling drug, and other products in Saudi Arabia. Pfizer ($PFE) is a step ahead, having started on a plant there that is expected to be producing drugs next year.

- here's the announcement