Saturday 24 February 2018

Uniphar planning stock market listing

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

IRISH drug distributor Uniphar is reportedly considering a stock market listing on the Irish Stock Exchange as it seeks to restructure and reduce debt.

The company is considering a listing within two years on the Dublin Enterprise Securities Market (ESM), the Irish Stock Exchange's market for smaller growth companies, according to Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Owned by a group of pharmacists, Uniphar is number two in the wholesale pharmaceutical business in Ireland. It is the main competitor to fellow Irish company United Drug.

It has about 35pc of the Irish wholesale market with annual sales of €1.2bn and an operating profit of €30m.

Like United Drug, its operation is challenged by the global patent cliff, which includes a number of key drugs made or sold in Ireland, as well as price reductions set by the HSE and impending reference-pricing legislation.

Goodbody called the prospect of a market listing "positive" for the wholesale market and for both companies because "a market listing would encourage rational behaviour and strict corporate governance at the number two player".

Uniphar recently acquired Cahill May Roberts from German company Celesio for €50m. Economies of scale provided by that deal should help it pay down debts, which currently stand at about €135m.

Cahill May Roberts was previously the third largest player on the market. At the time Uniphar chief executive Ger Rabbette said it was increasingly clear that the Irish market could not sustain three full service wholesalers.

Uniphar has about 630 staff in Ireland. The company is headquartered in Dublin, with centres in Limerick, Cork and Sligo.

Irish Independent

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