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South Africa's Aspen in $1 billion deal with Merck

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Aspen Pharmacare said on Thursday that it would acquire drugs and a plant from U.S. firm Merck in a $1 billion deal that bolsters its presence in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Africa's biggest maker of generic drugs said it would buy an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) business located in the Netherlands and a portfolio of 11 drug brands from Merck.

Aspen said the deal was subject to the approval of various competition authorities and the South African Reserve Bank.

Last week, Aspen said it would acquire the Arixtra and Fraxiparine/Fraxodi brands of thrombosis drugs from GlaxoSMithKline, except in China, Pakistan and India, a deal that could also be worth $1 billion.

Shares in Aspen, rose more than 1 percent on the news, outperforming a 0.7 percent decline in Johannesburg's benchmark Top-40 index.

(Reporting by Tosin Sulaiman and Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by David Dolan)

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