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BASF to pay €849m for nutrition specialist Pronova

Boosts its position in the consumer health sector

omega-3 fatty acid research 

BASF researcher with pods of genetically optimised canola (oil-seed rape) plants - the company aims to develop plants with elevated levels of healthy, long-chained omega-3 fatty acids

BASF has agreed to buy Norway's Pronova Biopharma in a $849m cash deal that will boost its position in the consumer health sector.

Pronova specialises in the development of nutritional and pharmaceutical products based on omega-3 fatty acids, which are growing in popularity as health supplements thanks to research suggesting they are of benefit in fighting heart disease.

The Norwegian company was the first to bring an omega-3 fatty acid-based pharmaceutical to market in the form of Omacor/Lovaza, which is indicated for secondary prevention of heart attacks in patients with high triglyceride levels.

Omacor is licensed to Abbott Laboratories in the US, and in Europe to the likes of Grupo Ferrer, GlaxoSmithKline and Pierre Fabre, and accounts for the lion's share of end-user sales of the firm's omega-3 products which were $683m in the first six months of the year.

"It is clear that BASF's global reach and resources, and Pronova's strong clinical evidence base and manufacturing advantages, would together achieve a leading position in the global omega-3 market," said BASF chairman Gert Munthe.

Pronova also has a pipeline of new fatty acid-based pharmaceuticals, including PRC-4016 which has entered clinical development as a treatment for atherosclerosis.

This is the third deal BASF has entered into in the fatty acid sector of late, having agreed in May to buy UK-based Equateq, which specialises in omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils and runs a processing facility on Lewis off the west coast of Scotland.

Meanwhile, at the end of 2011 the company signed an agreement with US food ingredient company Cargill to co-develop a canola oil containing two fatty acids - eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - for use in foods, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals. 

BASF said it needs acceptance by 90 per cent of Pronova's shareholders for the deal to go through, adding that it already has the support of 60 per cent, including Pronova's majority owner, the private equity firm Herkules.

22nd November 2012

From: Research, Sales

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