Deutsche Post Said Among Companies to Eye Celesio’s Unit

Deutsche Post AG, Europe’s largest mail carrier, is among companies interested in Celesio AG’s unit that provides logistics services to drugmakers, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Celesio, Europe’s largest drug wholesaler based in Stuttgart, Germany, hired Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale SA to run the sale of the business called Movianto, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Sales documents will probably be sent to potential buyers this month and the unit could fetch about 150 million euros to 250 million euros ($330 million), people familiar said.

Express companies are trawling for acquisitions because growth in pharmaceutical logistics is expected to average 7.6 percent in the coming years, reaching 63 billion euros by 2015, according to research firm Transport Intelligence Ltd. Celesio Chief Executive Officer Markus Pinger is overhauling the company, including selling units that are not part of the main business, after the company cut profit forecasts twice last year on increased regulation and competition in Europe.

Celesio’s sale of the Movianto unit comes amid an increase in logistics transactions, with United Parcel Service Inc. bidding 4.9 billion euros for Dutch competitor TNT Express NV. Movianto, which operates in 13 European countries with more than 1,700 employees, stores and delivers products for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and also offers re-packaging and re-labeling.

Growth Market

“A whole row of express and forwarding companies have identified healthcare logistics as an interesting growth market,” said Hartmut Moers, a Dusseldorf-based analyst at WestLB AG, who has a “buy” rating on Deutsche Post shares. “Theoretically, a business such as Movianto could be of interest for all the major players.”

Companies active in these markets include Deutsche Post, its U.S. competitors UPS and FedEx Corp. as well as the Swiss freight-forwarding company Kuehne & Nagel International AG and the Danish trucking company DSV A/S.

Spokesmen for Celesio and Deutsche Post, based in Bonn, Germany, declined to comment.

Deutsche Post, UPS, FedEx and other shipping companies have focused on growing their healthcare logistics units to take advantage of surging demand for drugs, aging populations and the higher profit margins that such packages typically bring.

Deutsche Post’s DHL express unit has previously cited healthcare as one of the areas driving growth. In 2006, the company won a 10-year contract to supply as much as 3.7 billion pounds ($5.9 billion) a year of goods to the U.K. state-funded National Health Service.

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