Nutrition & Santé, the French high-value dietary food specialist, will be sold to Japanese firm Otsuka Pharmaceutical, subject to regulatory approval.

The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

Known for its Gerblé, Gerlinéa and Milical brands, Nutrition & Santé was sold by Novartis to its present owners, Abenex Capital and LVMH's management fund, L.Capital, for EUR220m (US$302.1m) in February 2006.

Abenex controls 51% of the company with the remaining 49% of its capital in the hands of L.Capital.

Nutrition & Santé generated a turnover last year of EUR280m (US$302.2m) and employs 950 staff in Europe. Based in Revel, near Toulouse, it operates five production plants in France.

The takeover could be completed during the first quarter of 2009.