Emerging market playbook: Egypt's Amoun Pharma puts itself on the block

For the past few years, Big Pharma companies have been looking for growth opportunities all over the world, building manufacturing plants and R&D operations in emerging markets, even as they were laying off thousands of people in the U.S. and other developed nations. Among the big targets is Egypt, a country that investors have long predicted would grow faster than the U.S. and Europe in drug spending, despite its relatively small size.

Any pharma company looking for growth in Egypt has a new target to consider: Amoun Pharmaceutical, one of that country's largest drugmakers. Amoun has hired Jefferies Group to explore a potential sale, Bloomberg reports. Amoun CEO Mohamed Roushdy confirmed the company is looking into its M&A options, but said it has yet to reach a deal.

Amoun is currently owned by the private equity firms Capital Group, Concord International Investments, and Rohatyn Group. Rohaytn acquired its interest in Amoun last year, when it purchased Citigroup's buyout arm. Citi had teamed with Capital and Concord back in 2006 to buy Amoun for $450 million.

Amoun was founded in 1991 and manufactures more than 250 drugs, veterinary products, and food supplements. The company is developing drugs to treat a range of conditions, including hypertension and fibromyalgia, according to its website.

Although no suitors have emerged yet, there's little doubt Amoun could attract some sizeable offers. Among the companies that have been boosting their presence in Egypt is GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which bought Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) portfolio of drugs sold in that country, as well as a manufacturing plant there, for $210 million in 2008. Pfizer ($PFE) has also been actively looking for acquisitions throughout the Middle East, forecasting double-digit growth in more established countries like Egypt.

-here's the Bloomberg story

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