Abbott to buy Russian drugmaker for up to $495m

Tuesday 24 June 2014 13.03
Abbott deal ends a drought in Russian M&A activity this year due to the country's faltering economy and the Ukraine crisis.
Abbott deal ends a drought in Russian M&A activity this year due to the country's faltering economy and the Ukraine crisis.

US healthcare firm Abbott Laboratories is to buy Russian drugmaker Veropharm for up to $495m, giving it a manufacturing presence in a country where it has been operating for nearly 40 years. 

Today's deal ends a drought in Russian M&A activity this year due to the country's faltering economy and the Ukraine crisis. 

US companies have been particularly stymied from investing there with Washington advising top executives to steer clear of a major Russian investment forum in May. 

Abbott's purchase is the largest acquisition by a US company in Russia since Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco in December announced plans to buy stakes in cigarette distributor Megapolis for $750m each, according to Thomson Reuters data. 

Shares in Veropharm, one of Russia's biggest drugmakers with a market capitalisation of $300m, jumped by 34% to a three-year high in Moscow trade. 

The deal marks the latest foray by Abbott into emerging markets, following a $2.9 billion deal earlier in the year to buy Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals. 

Abbott, which sells healthcare devices and branded generics in 150 countries, last year split into two businesses and spun off its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug in a new company, AbbVie. 

It has said it plans to focus the branded generics business on about 14 or 15 fast-growing emerging markets. 

Under the deal, Abbott will buy Garden Hills, a holding company which owns a controlling interest in Veropharm, for a range of $395-$495m, depending on Garden Hills' ownership of Veropharm at the time of closure, Abbott said. 

Garden Hills currently owns more than 80% of Veropharm but is expected to own more than 95% when the deal closes, Abbott said.

Abbott will assume net debt of $136m and plans to fund the transaction with cash on the balance sheet, it said. It said it expects the deal, to close in the fourth quarter, to add $150m in sales in 2015. 

The Illinois-based company, which has been operating in Russia since 1978, said the deal would allow it to establish a manufacturing presence in the country. Veropharm has three pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in Pokrov, Belgorod and Voronezh. 

Abbott employs 1,400 staff in Russia in research and development, logistics, sales and marketing.