May 14, 2009 / 5:52 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Teva eyes expansion in Russia, France, Brazil-exec

* Says early for “major presence” in China

* Shares up 3 cents

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.TA), the world’s largest generic drug maker, is interested in expanding its presence in Russia, France and Brazil, although it is too early to consider a major presence in China, a top company executive said on Thursday.

Acquisitions have fueled Teva’s rise in generic drugs, including its recent $7.46 billion deal for U.S. rival Barr Pharmaceuticals.

Asked at an investor conference about any geographic holes the company might want to fill, Teva North America CEO Bill Marth said: “There are some very interesting markets that we know will grow over time.”

“We now have a pretty robust business in Russia, but I wouldn’t mind some more exposure to Russia,” Marth said at the Bank of America conference, which was broadcast over the Internet.

Teva has a good business in most of the European Union, Marth said, but “wouldn’t mind strengthening” in France, where he said the company is about the No. 3 player.

Marth also said “Brazil is of interest to us,” while adding that it is “not an easy market for us to get into.”

Many large drugmakers are eyeing emerging markets such as China as an area for growth as sales slow in mature markets.

Marth said “it’s a little early” for Teva to be weighing a “great presence into China.”

The Israel-based company also will put emphasis on building out its specialty pharmaceutical franchise, which now includes medicines in neurology, respiratory and women’s health, Marth said.

Teva shares were off 6 cents at $44.78 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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