Monday 14 October 2019

€150m Uniphar Dublin IPO to hand chemists big payday

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Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Irish pharmaceuticals group Uniphar is set to become the first company to float on the stock exchange in Dublin this year, with a planned listing to raise up to €150m.

The deal will create a potential payday for its 1,100 existing shareholders - largely made up of the owners of independent pharmacies in Ireland who are also core customers.

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The intention is to list shares representing 100pc of equity in London and on the Euronext Dublin, the company said yesterday. It is understood shareholders have been asked to commit to a so-called lock-up, meaning they will hold onto their shares for a fixed period.

Shareholder approval for the listing is already in place.

Proceeds will fund acquisitions and growth plans as well as going to reduce debt, the company said. The group's strategy is to double earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) in the five years to 2023.

The rare initial public offering (IPO) of shares will provide a boost to the equities business of Euronext Dublin, the former Irish Stock Exchange.

The deal was well flagged in advance - earlier this year Uniphar hired stockbroker Davy and RBC Capital Markets to sound out investors for a possible IPO.

According to the company's own website, Uniphar's revenues last year were €1.55bn, gross profit was €159.6m and earnings were €46.3m on a pro-forma basis, the company said yesterday in the stock market filing announcing its intention to float. The firm has more than 2000 employees.

The business had a turnover of €1.26bn, earnings of €19.4m and debts of €50m at the end of its 2017 financial year, the latest for which accounts have been filed. Since that year-end, the company has made a number of acquisitions, including of the 15 strong Allcare chain of pharmacies and the healthcare distribution business Sisk Group - both bought in 2018.

Accounts show the bulk of revenue is generated in Ireland where Uniphar is the biggest player in the Irish pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution market, but CEO Ger Rabbette said two-thirds of earnings are now derived from its international divisions - Commercial & Clinical and Product Access.

The business is chaired by retail veteran Maurice Pratt.

Irish Independent

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