UPDATE 1-BASF clears hurdle to bag Norway's Pronova
* BASF says was tendered 97.7 pct of Pronova shares
* Starts squeeze out, to conclude deal in next few weeks
* Part of drive to offer full range of omega-3 fatty acids (Adds background)
FRANKFURT, Jan 21 (Reuters) - BASF won over enough Pronova shareholders to secure control over the fish-oils maker, shoring up its nutrition business to reduce its reliance on the business cycle.
The German chemicals giant said on Monday it was tendered 97.7 percent of the shares in Norway's Pronova by the Friday deadline, more than the 90 percent it needed.
Global No.1 chemicals maker BASF is expanding in markets less exposed to swings in the economy than its core chemicals and plastics operations - a quest recently reflected in the planned acquisition of U.S. crop protection company Becker Underwood for $1.02 billion.
Pronova's appeal for BASF is its expertise in the extraction of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil for use in drugs and food supplements.
BASF is now free to squeeze out the remaining shareholders and expects to conclude the transaction within the next weeks, it added.
In addition to its previous acquisitions of consumer product groups Cognis and Equateq, the Pronova deal will help BASF cover the entire omega-3 range - a market where its competitors include DSM and Croda - from food-grade to highly concentrated versions for drugs.
Overall, BASF expects the market to see 8 percent annual growth until 2020. It is also working with agricultural products group Cargill to extract omega-3 fatty acids from new types of rape seed.
Last week, BASF had to lift its Pronova bid to 13.50 Norwegian crowns ($2.40) per share, valuing the firm at $737 million, after its initial 12.5 crowns offer was accepted by shareholders representing only just short of 70 percent of stock.
Pronova shares had closed at 13.35 crowns on Friday.