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Hyderabad: Aptuit Inc., a US contract-drug development firm has acquired an undisclosed majority stake in Hyderabad-based Laurus Labs Ltd for $100 million (Rs410 crore) in an effort to tap into the growing contract research and manufacturing services (CRAMS) space.

Aptuit, which has a presence in India through its bio-informatics unit in Bangalore, plans to merge its Indian operations into the new contract-drug development entity, Aptuit Laurus. The new company will be based in Hyderabad (R&D) with additional facilities in Visakhapatnam (manufacturing) and Bangalore (informatics).

Aptuit’s founder and chief executive officer Michael A. Griffith said Aptuit Laurus now provides a new set of choices for more than 600 pharma clients of Aptuit across the globe.

The Indian CRAMS industry, which stood at $895 million in 2006, is estimated to reach a size of $6.6 billion by 2013, according to a report by research firm Frost & Sullivan. Of the $895 million market, contract research amounted to $200 million and contract manufacturing, $695 million.

“India is now a preferred market for outsourced services in the CRAMS space since it offers significant capital arbitrage of up to 75% and not just labour arbitrage alone," said Shivani Shukla Raval, programme manager, pharmaceuticals practice, Frost & Sullivan. “Players such as Aptuit Laurus would gain from preferences for one-stop drug discovery solutions," added Raval.

Laurus’ founder and CEO Satyanarayana Chava said the promoters were not divesting their stake in the company but making a fresh equity offer “to enable Aptuit acquire a major holding in the new entity over the next four years."

Chava will remain Aptuit Laurus CEO.

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