Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories has agreed to buy the generic pharmaceutical business of GlaxoSmithKline's Italian division Allen SpA.

Ranbaxy said the business would be incorporated into its Ranbaxy Italia unit, first set up in September 2005, and accelerate its growth plans in Italy. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Ranbaxy Italia is in the midst of filing Ranbaxy's portfolio of generic products with the Italian Health Authorities and plans to launch this portfolio over the coming years. The first product, the antidepressant sertraline, is due to debut in May 2006.

Allen said the transaction should complete on April 1.

Ranbaxy’s move is yet another example of Indian drugmakers busily buying up US and European companies as they try to expand in international markets, and generic companies have been favoured targets.

Last month, Dr Reddy’s snapped up German firm Betapharm for $570 million, the largest deal of this type to date.

But a raft of other Indian company’s made acquisitions in 2005. Sun Pharma bought a plant in Hungary to serve as a springboard for an expansion into Europe, while Strides Arcolab adopted a similar strategy by purchasing a production facility in Poland.

Meanwhile, Torrent Pharmaceuticals bought German generics house Heumann Pharma for an undisclosed sum, while Matrix Laboratories acquired a stake in Belgium's Docpharma for 217 million euros.