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Pharma Group Protek Plans $400M IPO

Drugs distributor Protek plans to raise $400 million in an initial public offering in May or June, hoping to attract investors keen on stocks exposed to the pharmaceuticals sector.

Protek would be the third Russian company to float this year after United Company RusAl and a $200 million IPO by seafood firm Russkoye Morye, scheduled for late April to early May.

The company did not specify what stake it was planning to sell.

"On the one hand, investors — both portfolio and strategic — have an enormous interest in the Russian pharmaceutical sector. On the other hand, Protek is a specific company with a high level of business diversification," investment company Metropol said in a research note.

According to consultants DSM Group, the Russian pharmaceutical market was worth 538 billion rubles in 2009, having increased by 18 percent from 2008 levels.

It expects the market to grow by 11 percent this year in rubles and by 16 percent in dollar terms.

Protek has 22 percent of the Russian market for wholesale pharmaceuticals and owns a 578-store chain of Rigla pharmacies. It also has plants producing syringes and medicines.

Protek, 86 percent beneficially owned by its board chairman Vadim Yakunin, plans to use the proceeds to expand its brand portfolio, fund the development of its pharmacy chain and possibly target mergers and acquisitions.

"The Russian pharmaceutical sector has seen strong dynamics in recent years, even during the recent global economic downturn," Protek Group president Vadim Muzyayev said in a statement.

"We believe our business model provides exposure to growth in the principal segments of the Russian pharmaceutical market and multiple opportunities to leverage synergies across the company," he said.

The company increased sales by 18 percent in 2009 to 91.6 billion rubles ($3.12 billion), while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization grew by 68 percent to 5.8 billion rubles.

Hungarian drug producer Richter Gedeon owns about 4.6 percent of Protek shares.


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