Sanofi-Aventis is to take control of Indian vaccines specialist Shantha Biotechnics in a deal valued at 550 million euros.

The Paris-headquartered drugmaker's Sanofi Pasteur unit has agreed to buy Merieux Alliance's French subsidiary ShanH, which owns 80% of Shantha, a private firm founded by Varaprasad Reddy in 1993. The acquisition of the Hyderabad-based company, which is expected to have sales of some $90 million in the current fiscal year, is set to close before the end of the third quarter.

Shantha markets a pentavalent paediatric vaccine as well as a cholera treatment. It is also developing rotavirus, conjugated typhoid and HPV vaccines. Alain Merieux, who will chair the board of ShanH and head a new joint committee between the Alliance and Sanofi on vaccine strategy for the emerging markets, said Shantha’s philosophy is “ to provide developing countries with international quality level products at an accessible price”. He added that Shantha’s future development “necessitates support from a major international vaccine company”.

Sales of Shantha to grow significantly “given the addition of Sanofi Pasteur's commercial resources and with the launch of Shantha's pipeline of new vaccines”, the companies noted and Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher said the deal positions his firm “to accelerate its growth in strategically important emerging markets". He added that Shantha’s “state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities allow Sanofi Pasteur to gain high quality capacity in order to enable us to provide important vaccines at affordable prices”.

Sanofi has made no secret of its desire to boost growth in the emerging markets and this latest deal comes after April saw the firm buy Brazilian drugmaker Medley as well as Mexican generics group Laboratorios Kendrick.