Sistema aims to buy Russia's Veropharm in potential $636M deal

It's official: Russian conglomerate Sistema is government-approved to buy Veropharm, a fast-growing generics maker that's currently operating under the aegis of pharmacy retailer 36.6. According to RIA Novosti, Sistema could pay up to $326 million for 36.6's 51.8% stake in Veropharm.

In fact, Sistema has Russia's blessing to take over Veropharm completely, by buying out minority shareholders. When the approval was announced, Veropharm's shares leapt by 9.7%. The government approval is contingent on "prescriptions" to preserve market competition, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said.

So, the deal could potentially hit $636 million, if Sistema snaps up all the shares. On the low end, industry experts said, the buyout would be worth $130 million if Sistema just buys 36.6's stake, or $253 million for the whole shebang.

Veropharm is one of the world's fastest-growing generics makers, according to figures provided by EvaluatePharma. Last year's sales amounted to $156 million, up 24% from 2010, and CEO Marina Penkova expects another 16% leap this year.

The debt-laden 36.6 chain has put Veropharm up for sale before--and reportedly drew offers from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Stada--but ultimately held off on a deal. Sistema may be interested in combining Veropharm with another drugmaker it owns, Binnopharm, which is Russia's second-largest.

- read the RIA Novosti story

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