Spanish functional foods company Natraceutical said this week that it has bought French peer Laboratoires Forte Pharma for EUR82m (US$105.68m) in a deal that could nearly triple its turnover this year.

In a statement, highly acquisitory Natraceutical said it will pay cash for the acquisition, which it hopes to finance through debt and a share offer on the Spanish bolsa. Valencia-based Natraceutical said it hopes to seal the deal in the second half of 2006.

The transaction will allow Natraceutical to sell customers finished functional products. The company now produces nutritional extracts, powders and pectins for sale to third parties.

Forte Pharma makes nutritional supplements for the dietary, health and beauty sectors. Its sales have increased fivefold in the past four years and the firm has increased its distribution network to include Belgium, Italy and Spain, Natraceutical said.

Forte Pharma’s integration “will consolidate Natraceutical as a reference in the European functional foods and nutritional supplements field, extending its value chain to the final customer,” Natraceutical added.

In 2006, Europe’s nutritional supplements market will grow by 10% to EUR4.6bn, Natraceutical pointed out, adding that per capita consumption in Europe totals EUR17 compared with EUR65 for the US and Japan, underlining the sector’s high growth potential.

If the acquisition goes ahead, Natraceutical forecasts that it will deliver EBITDA-level operating profits of EUR24m on sales revenues of EUR150m. That compares with EBITDA of EUR5m and turnover of EUR53m in 2005.

The Forte Pharma purchase will boost Natraceutical’s product portfolio to 32 items, provide it with a 6,000 point-of-sale commercial network, enhance its research capabilities and widen its product pipeline, the company said.