Pfizer seen circling top Turkish drug company

July 17, 2009

From Acquisitions Monthly

Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceuticals company, is lining up Turkey’s largest drugs company, Abdi Ibrahim, for a deal, according to an M&A banking source.

There are no talks so far, and what form a potential tie-up would take is not yet known.

Only last month the president of Pfizer’s emerging markets business unit revealed that the drugs company was considering new acquisitions.

“We see opportunities coming from the financial crisis… opportunities to build partnerships in emerging markets,”

Jean-Michel Haldon told Reuters in June. He did not give further details at the time, but under the stewardship of chairman and chief executive Jeff Kindler, Pfizer wants to add $3 billion in annual revenue by 2012 from emerging markets, which include China, Brazil and Turkey.

Family-owned Abdi Ibrahim – which is run by its president Nezih Barut and has annual sales of around $850 million – would certainly provide Pfizer with that additional source of income.
Turkey’s pharma market also remains hugely fragmented and is ripe for consolidation.  Abdi Ibrahim may be Turkey’s market leader, but it only has 7 percent of the country’s estimated $11 billion pharmaceutical market.  Hot on its heels are the likes of Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis.

The big multi-nationals are increasingly looking to the developing markets for growth as they face stiffer competition from generic drug makers, patent expiries, and a pressing need to reinvigorate their drug pipelines – all reasons why Pfizer bought Wyeth in January for $68 billion.  Pfizer’s best-selling anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor indeed expires in 2011. While a source close to Pfizer would neither confirm nor deny the company’s bid interest, Pfizer’s chief spokesperson Ray Kerins predictably would not comment on what he described as rumor. As for Abdi Ibrahim, all of its 2829 employees seem to have gone off on holiday.   “Welcome to Abdi Ibrahim,” said a corporate voice mail.  “Abdi Ibrahim’s headquarters will be closed from 6 to 20 July due to corporate summer vacation.”

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