Jordanian drugmaker Hikma has agreed to acquire the Egyptian Company for Pharmaceuticals & Chemical Industries, one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Hikma, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is paying 142.4 million Egyptian pounds, about $22.2 million, to get hold of EPCI. The latter sells around 35 products in 46 dosage forms and strengths, including three cephalosporin anti–invectives.

For its money, Hikma gets a dedicated cephalosporin facility and a general formulation manufacturing plant in Egypt. The deal will also provide the company with an entry into the ophthalmology market.

According to IMS Health figures, the private retail market in Egypt is valued at around $2.30 billion and grew by 10.6% in the twelve months to June last year. With 84 million people, the country offers excellent growth opportunities, Hikma says; it is currently the 17th largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in Egypt, with a market share of 1.6%.

Chief executive Said Darwazah said that "since we entered the Egyptian market in 2007, we have been rapidly growing our presence" and "this acquisition will further accelerate that growth". He added that "we continue to strengthen our position as the leading regional manufacturer in MENA and to pursue other value–creating acquisition opportunities in the region".

Commenting on the deal, Panmure Gordon analyst Savvas Neophytou  noted that the EPCI buy "seems consistent with management strategy and is expected to be funded from current reserves". He noted that Hikma's position in Egypt has been "sub-scale" and this acquisition "will not propel the company towards a top-three position but it adds 35 products which Hikma should be able to better leverage given its broader distribution network".