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Aspen Pharmacare In Talks to Buy Merck & Co. Dutch Unit

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Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s largest generic drugmaker, said it’s in talks on a possible acquisition of Dutch ingredient manufacturing capacity and product lines from U.S. medicine producer Merck & Co.

Aspen is in discussions with Merck’s European unit MSD on the potential purchase of an ingredient-making operation “situated primarily” in the Netherlands and a related set of finished products, Aspen said in a statement today, without giving further details.

The drugmaker, which supplies medicines in more than 150 countries, is acquiring product lines to expand in Australia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. GlaxoSmithKline Plc, U.K’s largest drugmaker, owns 18.6 percent of Aspen.

Aspen fell 0.8 percent to 162.10 rand after rising earlier in the day by as much as 2.2 percent. The stock has surged about 60 percent in the last 12 months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Johannesburg at kbhuckory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net