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PARIS (Reuters) - French plant-based ingredient maker Roquette has agreed to buy pharmaceutical tablet maker Itacel from Brazilian peer Blanver in its first acquisition in a $6 billion global market in which it aims to take a leading role, it said on Wednesday.
The acquisition of the company, based near Sao Paulo, is also the first step in Latin America for family-owned Roquette, which also produces food ingredients from plants such as corn, wheat, potatoes and peas.
"This strategic investment offers Roquette the ability to expand the global footprint of its pharmaceutical business, as well as enrich its offerings of widely used excipients," the company said in a statement.
Roquette declined to disclose the amount of the deal.
Excipients are substances, such as sugar or gum, used to prepare pills and tablets in a form suitable for administration.
Family-owned Blanver, has decided to divest its excipients business to focus on expanding its two other divisions: medicines and so-called Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).
Pharmaceutical excipients - a market that has been growing by an average 6 percent per year globally - currently amount to between 10 and 15 percent of Roquette's sales which stand at around 3.3 billion euros ($3.7 billion), a spokesman said.
The acquisition of Itacel is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.
($1 = 0.8914 euros)
(Corrects to third quarter from first in the final paragraph)
Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by David Evans