Watchdog Clears Sistema to Buy Drugmaker Veropharm

MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) –The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has cleared Sistema, a Russian services-to-oil conglomerate, to buy 100 percent of the voting stock of the country’s third largest drugmaker Veropharm, the competition watchdog said on Monday.

“The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service had made a decision to meet this petition [from Sistema] and simultaneously issue prescriptions to both Sistema and Veropharm to accomplish measures aimed at ensuring competition. This decision is effective only in conjunction with these prescriptions,” the watchdog said in a statement.

Sistema, with its Global Depository Receipts traded in London and ordinary shares circulating on the Moscow Stock Exchange, is making new acquisitions to further diversify its portfolio.

Sistema’s major assets include Russia’s top mobile operator MTS and mid-sized oil firm Bashneft.

The group already wholly owns smaller pharmaceutical firm Binnopharm. Its other smaller and growing businesses include Russia’s largest toy retailer Detsky Mir, retail lender MTS Bank, private healthcare company Medsi, RTI defense contractor and hi-tech business and Intourist travel operator.

Russian business media reported that the 36.6 pharmacy chain was ready to sell its 51.8 percent stake in Veropharm to pay off its debt, which amounted to 8.7 billion rubles ($270 million) in the first half of 2012.

Pharmaceutical market experts polled by Prime news agency said the 36.6 pharmacy chain could receive from $130 million to $326 million from the sale of its stake in Veropharm, depending on the premium to the asset’s market value. Veropharm’s remaining 48.2 percent of its shares are currently in free float.


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