UCB has expanded its presence in the emerging markets by acquiring a majority stake in Brazilian drugmaker Meizler Biopharma.

The Belgian group is taking an initial 51% stake in the privately-owned Sao Paulo-headquartered company. Under the terms of the deal, the financial details for which have not been disclosed, Meizler's owners are entitled to performance-related milestone payments and UCB has an option to purchase the remaining 49% at some stage in the future.

Meizler, which was founded in 1990 and has 130 employees, sells in-licensed specialty products which cover different therapeutic categories, including central nervous system and immunology treatments, UCB's main areas of expertise. A profitable entity, sales last year topped 36 million euros.

UCB chief executive Roch Doliveux noted that "Brazil is one of UCB’s key markets in which the company did not have a direct presence". He added that  "we look forward to building our presence in this region", which is the seventh-largest biopharmaceutical market worldwide and "growing fast".