Italy’s Recordati said it will acquire the Tunisian pharmaceutical company Opalia Pharma for TND 80 million ($48.5 million), in an effort to expand operations into the growing Middle East market.

“The acquisition of Opalia Pharma is another step forward in our strategy to increase our business in the emerging markets,” Giovanni Recordati, the acquiring company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Recordati is already generating significant and growing revenue from its export sales in the North African countries. This acquisition represents a strategic platform to establish a direct presence in this area with the objective of extending coverage also to countries in Central Africa and in the Gulf states.”

Established in 1988, Opalia Pharma is Tunisia’s third largest pharmaceutical company, and specializes in marketing branded generic drugs with leading products in dermatology and in the gastrointestinal and respiratory therapeutic areas. The company employs 322 people and estimates it will generate 2013 sales of about TND 40 million ($24.2 million)

Recordati, which employs some 3,300 people worldwide, today reported strong first-half results for this year, saying its net income grew year-over-year by 11%, to €70.3 million (about $93 million) on revenue that rose nearly 14% to €477.7 million (about $631.7 million).

The acquisition is expected to close “in the following months,” Recordati said in the statement, subject to approval by Tunisian authorities.

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