Bayer has announced a plant to invest 130 million euros in its Japanese operations by 2008, reflecting the country’s status as the group's third largest sales market behind the USA and Germany.

Werner Wenning, Bayer’s chairman, made the announcement at an event in Tokyo yesterday, at which he noted that Bayer group sales in Japan rose by 7.8% in the first nine months of 2005 to 149 billion yen.

Bayer HealthCare accounts for the largest volume of sales, and from January to September, the division increased its revenue by 5.6% to 73 billion yen, although pharmaceuticals growth was held back by ‘difficult market conditions’.

Wenning said the forthcoming launches of antibiotic Avelox (moxifloxacin) and cholesterol-lowerer Zetia (ezetimibe; licensed from Schering-Plough) would help drive pharmaceuticals growth in the coming years.

“Bayer has a very strong interest in the Asia-Pacific region, which will be the focus of our capital investments during the present decade,” said Wenning, noting that the group plans to raise the proportion of sales generated there from 17% at present to 25% by 2010.

However, the main focus for investment is China: Bayer recently announced a 1.8 billion-euro investment programme in its facility in Caojing, near Shanghai.