Eli Lilly may partner with Turkish generic maker: report

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co <LLY.N> is in talks to form a partnership with, and potentially invest in, Turkish generic-drug company Mustafa Nevzat Ilac Sanayii AS (MN Pharmaceuticals), the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The talks, which are in an early stage, marks the latest effort by a big Western multinational to tap emerging markets for growth.

The discussions with Indianapolis-based Lilly are currently focused only on a minority interest, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman for Lilly did not immediately comment to the Wall Street Journal, while the paper said a MN representative could not be reached.

Eli Lilly and Mustafa Nevzat were not immediately available for comment to Reuters.

Both Lilly and MN Pharmaceuticals have lined up advisers in advance of a potential deal. Besides a foreign drug company, it is also possible MN could sell a stake to a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund, one of the people told the Journal.

A deal with MN Pharmaceuticals would give a foreign drug company access to local distribution, low-cost manufacturing, regulatory expertise and new products. Turkey also could serve as a springboard to fast-growing markets in Asia.

MN Pharmaceuticals, founded in 1923, makes generic drugs such as antibiotics that are injected rather than taken as pills.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore; Editing by Matt Driskill)