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      Ranbaxy out to buy German, Romanian firms

      After taking a beating over the last few months, pharma major Ranbaxy Laboratories is out to radically alter its image.

      After the Atrovastin case loss against Pfizer, it's now on the prowl again.

      It is learnt that Ranbaxy Laboratories is likely to acquire two European companies " one is based in Germany and the other in Romania.

      The valuation of the German firm is in excess of $500 million while that of the Romanian firm is between $110 and $150 million, say sources.

      When contacted, a senior official of Ranbaxy Laboratories said that they were bound by confidentiality agreements and as such were not in a position to comment on the issue. Sources say that the acquisition is expected to be funded through a combination of cash and equity swapping.

      Sources close to the developments say that Ranbaxy has shown keen interest in a Germany-based pharma firm Betapharm.

      The company is currently owned by 3i, the leading European venture capitalist which backed a euro 300 million management buyout of Betapharm in March 2004.

      Germany has one of the highest levels of use for patent-free drugs in Europe, and this is scheduled to grow by 10 per cent over the next five years.

      Earlier, Ranbaxy had bid for the US-based generic pharma firm Alpharma and Ivax Corporation. Ranbaxy had also bid for Viatris GmbH & Co but lost out to a Swedish firm recently.

      Ranbaxy plans to achieve significant business in proprietary prescription products by 2012 with a strong presence in developed markets.

      It also aspires to be among the top five generic players with sales of $5 billion by 2012. In order to achieve these objectives, the company is actively looking at inorganic growth, experts feel.

      In Romania, the company has shown interest for two pharma companies Terapia SA and Sindan.

      Terapia is a manufacturer of generics drugs in Romania, which clocked sales of $65 million in 2004 and EBIDTA of $20 million. A leading private equity firm " Advent International " which owns 91 per cent of Terapia, has appointed Merrill Lynch as the advisor to the deal.

      When contacted, the company spokesperson said that as a policy "we do not to comment on speculation. But we are certainly looking for inorganic growth in Europe and the US."

      Analysts feel that the acquisition in the European market would give generic penetration in Romania.

      The company received a major setback in the recent past when it lost cases in the US and UK.

      In fact, Ranbaxy has not won a patent challenge since August 2001 when it received approval from a United States' court for its version of GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Ceftin antibiotic.

      January 18, 2006


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