AstraZeneca spurs South African operations

AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) won't be left behind in South Africa, says CEO David Brennan (photo), who tells Bloomberg that his company is boosting its presence in that country. "We have been increasing our investment in our marketing, selling and clinical research capabilities here," Brennan explains. "There is scope for continued investment. Our business here is growing faster than the market here."

South Africa has been attracting increased attention from Big Pharma. First, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) partnered up with the country's top drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare, then bought a stake in that company. And last week, Merck announced a joint venture with South Africa's No. 2 pharma firm, Adcock Ingram.

It's just part of AstraZeneca's--and Big Pharma's--push into emerging markets. In AZ's case, expansion opportunities are analyzed country-by-country, rather than regionally. "China is a big opportunity," Brennan tells Bloomberg, and predicted for Reuters that the company's growth in China will double over the next five years. "[B]ut not all the markets in Asia have the same opportunities," he says. "Our central Europe, Middle East and Africa operations are the ones where we will disproportionately invest."

- see the Bloomberg interview
- get more from Reuters