India's Bajaj Healthcare forays into opiate processing, shares surge

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BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian pharmaceutical company Bajaj Healthcare Ltd said on Wednesday it was entering the highly-regulated opiate processing business after winning two tenders from the government, sending its shares to a near three-month peak.

The orders, to supply opium-derived alkaloids and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to the government, give a private player access to the state-controlled opiates market for the first time, Bajaj Healthcare said in a regulatory filing.

Shares of the company rose as much as 5.3% to their highest since April 20, extending gains to a sixth straight session. The stock has risen around 24% over the last five sessions.

"The Indian opiates market holds good potential, and the receipt of this order opens the doors to a new business vertical with better margin," said Anil Jain, joint managing director of Bajaj Healthcare.

The company plans to execute the orders at its API manufacturing unit in the western state of Gujarat and sees overall margin accretion due to better capacity utilization of the plant.

Bajaj Healthcare, established in 1993, specialises in making intermediates, APIs and formulations.

(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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