Sanofi expands in Morocco with €20M hub

A growing market in Africa is attracting more attention from Big Pharma, and Sanofi ($SNY) is expanding its infrastructure there to take advantage of that growth. The emerging market is strategic enough that it drew Sanofi CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher to Morocco Thursday for the opening of a new logistics center. 

"It will become the largest distribution center for Sanofi's pharmaceutical products on the African continent," Viehbacher said. 

The company also signed agreements to provide training and education covering treatments for Type 1 diabetes, mental disorders and epilepsy. 

Sanofi spent €20 million building the 12,000-square-meter facility in Ain Sebâa, Casablanca. It can handle 14,500 pallets and will distribute 1,300 Sanofi products manufactured by its Moroccan subsidiary. The hub will ship throughout Morocco and export to sub-Saharan Africa. Sanofi has a manufacturing plant in Zenata, Casablanca, which it said produced 70 million units last year. That includes 20 million units of the malaria treatment ASAQ Winthrop. The drugmaker has about 900 people in the the country. 

Africa is seeing an increase in chronic diseases and an emerging middle class that can pay for treatments. The African pharma market is expected to grow to $45 billion by 2020. Its growth rate--10.6% annually--matches up with Latin America's. As growth in the more established emerging markets slows down, Africa's is expected to maintain momentum. Sanofi is far from alone in beefing up its presence on the continent. Sandoz, for example, is expanding production in South Africa, which has the largest economy in the region. Domestic companies also are growing. 

- here's the announcement