Sanofi-Aventis Takes Stake In Indian Vaccine Maker

French pharmaceutical company said Monday it agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Shantha Biotechnics Ltd. for an undisclosed amount.

PARIS (AP) -- French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis SA said Monday it has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Indian vaccine maker Shantha Biotechnics Ltd. for an undisclosed amount.

The deal valued the Hyderabad-based Shantha at euro550 million ($783 million), Sanofi-Aventis said in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, the vaccines division Sanofi Pasteur will buy ShanH, a holding company that controls 80 percent of Shantha Biotechnics, from French biotechnology firm Merieux Alliance. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter.

"Shantha provides Sanofi Pasteur with a portfolio of new vaccines in development which complement Sanofi Pasteur's current vaccines," Chief Executive Christopher Viehbacher said in a statement.

Sanofi-Aventis has been on an acquisition streak since Viehbacher took over, buying smaller drugmakers in the Czech Republic, Mexico and Brazil. It aims to refill a development pipeline that analysts see as woefully light on new drugs to replace those that will soon go off patent and face competition from cheaper copies.

Most recently, Sanofi-Aventis agreed to pay $500 million for Brisbane, California-based BiPar Sciences, which is working on a new cancer treatment.

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