London: GlaxoSmithKline plans to acquire Chinese drugmaker Nanjing MeiRui Pharma in its latest drive into emerging markets, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
The price tag is likely to be modest, at around $100 million, but the deal fits with the company’s strategy of making bolt-on acquisitions to help it diversify. Glaxo hopes to sign the deal before the end of the year, said the sources, who asked for anonymity because the talks are confidential.
The British-based drugmaker declined to comment.
Many of the world’s top pharmaceuticals companies are chasing assets in emerging markets as sales flag in Western countries due to patent expiries on previous blockbuster medicines and pressure on prices.
Glaxo’s chief strategy officer David Redfern told the Reuters Health Summit earlier this month he was eyeing small buys, although prices in some emerging markets, including China, were high and Glaxo would only do deals that met strict guidelines for financial returns.
The company has made the push into emerging markets a high priority as it seeks to build a broader and more stable revenue base. Glaxo has struck deals with companies in other key markets, including South Africa and India.
China is the world’s third largest drugs market, and pharmaceuticals information company IMS Health expects it to overtake Japan as the world’s second-biggest pharmaceuticals market after the United States in 2015.
The country, however, is not immune to the sort of pressures seen in mature markets like Europe, the United States and Japan, as evidenced by Beijing’s plans to cut the price of many medicines by an average of 19% from 12 Dec.
Nanjing MeiRui specializes in drugs to treat urological conditions, such as overactive bladder and prostate enlargement, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Glaxo also has a best-selling drug for BPH called Avodart.