The first largest pharma deal of the year: Advent buys OzoneAdvent International, a buyout firm based in US that holds local drug maker LaborMed is on the verge of taking over Ozone’s product array, without sharing any financial details of the deal.

The two companies are in advanced takeover talks

One official said that Advent International was already in advanced takeover talks with Ozone, with the possibility of actually having already stroke a deal by now. A person close to the matter said Ozone board had already approved the buyout offer from Advent earlier this month, and that LaborMed had acquired only Ozone’s portfolio.

As for the size of the deal, estimations vary. In default of any official source, information circulating in the market indicated that in a first stage, the move was driven by hopes an offer at about 80 million euros could emerge. Nevertheless, according to more recent information the value dropped to 20 million euros and even below.

This is the second deal in drug industry concluded in 2009, after the Belgium’s OTC producer (over the counter) Omega Pharma acquired full equity stake in Hipocrate 2000 and Hipocrate Distribution Group in March 2009, after takeover talks that lasted half year.

Once the deal closed, the transaction could bring LaborMed and Ozone annual sales of over 60 million euros and a market share of 3%, namely a top ten position in Romanian pharmaceutical companies.

Market specialists say it was a win-win deal, as the portfolio of both companies is complementary. LaborMed is focused on prescription drugs, while Ozone has a strong presence in OTC drugs. Last year, Ozone Romania reported turnover of 35.1 million euros, up 19% from 2007. The group’s turnover stood at 77 million euros.

Advent: It’s too early to comment

Advent did not confirm the transaction, saying it was too early to comment, and that nothing has changed in the fund’s strategy year-to-date. “We’re still scanning the environment for other buyouts that could be complementary or could diversify our portfolio, both in Romania and in the region”, Sebastian Tcaciuc, director of local subsidiary of Advent International told Wall-Street.

The crisis brought new opportunities to Advent, Sebastian Tcaciuc continued. Although the pharmaceutical sector remains attractive, new opportunities emerged in other markets such as business service, FMCG and retail.

Advent International completed fundraising for 1 billion euro fund that it intends to use over the next few years for buyouts opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe. Historically, Tcaciuc said, Romania attracted almost a third of Advent’s previous funds, which can be considered as an “indication for expectations related to the allocation of the current funds”. The director of Advent Romania added that both options were under review – full takeover of companies, as well as partial takeover of companies, “but the decision will be made on a case-by-case basis”.