By Tracy Staton
2011 generic drug sales: $156 million
Growth rate 2011: 24%
Growth rate 2010: 28%
Veropharm has drawn the eyes of acquisition-hungry investors several times over the past few years. And no wonder: It's one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Russia, a market that's one of the fastest-growing in the drug business. Plus, Russian officials have declared local production and technology transfer de rigueur for foreign drugmakers that want a piece of that growth.
But foreign pharmas and investment funds have been shopping Veropharm for additional reasons. One, it's growing. The company grew by one-fifth each of the last two years, with prescription drugs accounting for most of that expansion. (The company also makes over-the-counter products and adhesive bandages.) To gear up for even more growth, the company made plans last year for a new, $63.5 million manufacturing plant to add to its three other production facilities.
The second reason? Its majority owner, the drugstore chain Pharmacy Chain 36.6, has periodically shopped for offers. 36.6 has had a rocky few years financially, and it put Veropharm up for sale in 2009, looking to raise cash. A handful of private-equity buyers made offers--as did GlaxoSmithKline and Germany's Stada, or so the rumors went. But 36.6 wasn't satisfied with any of them.
So, for now, Veropharm remains under 36.6's wing. But since its last trip onto the sales block, 36.6 has been shutting down stores, and Veropharm's profit has been wiped out by losses at the retail operations. Whether the parent company will decide to entertain offers again is anybody's guess. But it certainly wouldn't be a surprise. And with CEO Marina Penkova expecting sales growth of 16% to $228 million for 2012, it just might find a buyer this time.